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Suspects In Clinic Bombings Plead Guilty To Conspiracy

July 27, 1987 GMT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ Two men admitted Monday that they plotted the fire-bombings of three abortion clinics, saying they acted to focus public attention on the abortion issue and ″save countless lives.″

Charles Albert Cheshire Jr. and John David Newchurch, both 26, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to burn three Baton Rouge abortion clinics in 1985 and 1986. Their pleas came as jury selection was to begin in U.S. District Court.

Cheshire said he had hoped that burning the Delta Women’s Clinic, the River City Women’s Clinic and the Acadian Women’s Clinic would increase awareness of the abortion issue. He said the pair also hoped ″to save countless lives of the unborn.″

The River City Women’s Clinic was destroyed in a fire-bombing on Oct. 27, 1985. The Delta Women’s Clinic was damaged Oct. 31, 1985. The plan to burn the Acadian Women’s Clinic in March 1986 was not executed, authorities said.

Cheshire said he had wanted to present numerous articles, books, tapes and films depicting the ″pain and suffering″ of abortion to the jury during his trial, but he was rebuffed by U.S. District Judge Frank Polozola.

″The issue is whether a building got bombed,″ Polozola said at a pretrial hearing.

Polozola accepted the guilty pleas following negotiations between U.S. Attorney Ray Lamonica, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian Hipwell and defense attorneys John Digiulio, Jim Boren and Anthony Bertucci.

The agreement calls for a recommendation of psychiatric help for Newchurch, who had been expected to raise a sanity defense.

Both men face possible maximum sentences of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and possible restitution.

Two other men, both 23, already had pleaded guilty in the case.