Victim Bludgeoned, Shot, Witness Says With AM-Order Trial-Review
SEATTLE (AP) _ A former member of the white supremacist group The Order described Monday how a man thought to be a security risk to the group was taken into a forest, struck with a hammer and then shot in the head.
James Sherman Dye, 37, testified at the federal racketeering trial of 10 alleged Order members that the victim, Walter West, was targeted for killing in May 1984.
″He was a heavy drinker. He would go into town and start discussing The Order and matters of the (right-wing Aryan Nations) church, openly talking about robberies and such,″ Dye said.
Dye is one of 11 Order members who have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, but the only one of those who allegedly saw an Order slaying.
The government claims Order members killed West and Denver radio host Alan Berg, staged robberies and counterfeited money as part of a plot to overthrow the government and set up a white homeland free of Jews and minorities.
Dye and five others from the group, including defendants Richard Kemp and Randolph Duey, are accused of killing West, whose body has never been found. Prosecutors allege that Kemp was the one who hit West with a hammer and that Duey shot him.
Dye testified the group decided that he and David Tate should dig a grave while Duey and Kemp found an excuse to take West to the site.
He said he and Tate hid when Duey and Kemp arrived with West on May 27, 1984, and that he heard two thuds, apparently West being hit with the hammer.
Then there was the sound of a gunshot, and Dye and Tate emerged to find West’s body slumped against a tree, he said.
Tate also was indicted, but is jailed in Missouri on a charge of killing a state trooper.
Dye said Kemp told him that ″he hit him (West) twice and heard his skull crack and he couldn’t believe that didn’t kill him.″
Duey told Dye that he shot West in the forehead with a rifle that West himself had brought, Dye testified.
He said the decision to kill West was made at a meeting at the home of Order founder and leader Robert Mathews. He said West apparently was brought to Mathews’ attention by Thomas Bentley, a member of the right-wing Aryan Nations church.
Bentley, originally a defendant in the racketeering case, pleaded guilty shortly after the trial began Sept. 9.
Dye said he lived at Mathews’ house after Mathews recruited him in Philadelphia, and that he agreed to participate in West’s killing because ″I kind of felt obligated″ to Mathews.
″He was supplying me with basically everything - money, food.″
Dye said he once helped Mathews count $40,000 from a barrel of money that Mathews kept hidden in his home.
Dye also said Mathews returned to his Metaline Falls, Wash., home about two days after Berg’s June 18, 1984, slaying and displayed Denver-area newspaper clippings about the killing.
The government claims Mathews was one of the lookouts while defendant Bruce Pierce pulled the trigger.
Mathews said ″that the gentleman got what he deserved. He was very happy about it,″ Dye recalled.
Mathews died in a shootout last Dec. 8 on Whidbey Island, after federal agents tracked him to a hideout on the Puget Sound island.
Defense lawyers have objected to any testimony about West’s killing, claiming the government cannot prove where it occurred, except that it was somewhere within a two-hour drive of Hayden Lake, Idaho. That could place the crime scene in Idaho, Washington, Montana or Canada.