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Burmeister asks for protection in prison

March 7, 1997

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ The ex-paratrooper sentenced to life in prison for the hate killings of two blacks is in protective isolation at his own request, his warden said Friday.

Until James N. Burmeister II, 21, decides to join the general prison population, ``he stays in his cell, everywhere he goes he will be escorted. He will be in restraints,″ said Central Prison Warden James French.

Restraints mean handcuffs and leg shackles for Burmeister, who moved into administrative segregation at the maximum-security prison early Friday. Central Prison’s inmate population is 67 percent black.

The warden said he had no indication that black prisoners were upset about Burmeister coming to Central. He also said Burmeister ``indicated he didn’t have any fear.″

Burmeister told officials he needed the segregation, French said. ``We will probably keep him there at his own request until he lets us know he is ready to come off and be placed in the main population,″ he said.

If Burmeister wants the status permanently a Department of Correction committee will review his request.

Burmeister, convicted of shooting a black couple to death Dec. 7, 1995, because of their race, avoided the death penalty when the jury was unable to break an 11-1 deadlock on imposing it.

Testimony showed he had joined a white supremacist, neo-Nazi group at Fort Bragg, where he was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.

Another soldier charged in the killings, Malcolm Wright, 22, faces trial March 31.

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