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Three Gubernatorial Candidates Withdraw Ads Mentioning Triple- Slaying

April 29, 1994

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) _ Three gubernatorial candidates agreed to spare Gadsden-area residents campaign ads that mention the slayings of three fast-food restaurant workers there, a spokeswoman for the restaurant said.

The campaigns of Gov. Jim Folsom, Democratic rival Paul Hubbert and Republican Winton Blount joined in the agreement, said Ellen Hartman, spokeswoman for Popeye’s Famous Fried Chicken.

Three employees at the Popeye’s in Gadsden were herded into a walk-in cooler and shot to death April 16. A fourth employee survived. Two people were charged.

Folsom’s ad noted a teen-age suspect was charged as an adult under terms of a bill he has signed into law.

Hubbert’s blamed the early release last year of 2,000 convicted criminals, including a suspect in the case, on the Folsom administration.

Blount’s ad pointed out the suspect got out of prison for good behavior under a law supported by two other rivals in the race.

Gadsden is a city of about 42,000 residents in northeastern Alabama.

Popeye’s assistant manager Avis Thornton said the radio and television ads were painful for restaurant staff, friends and family of the victims.

The district attorney in Gadsen, Jim Hedgspeth, also complained.

″It is downright poor when we have candidates for public offices who are exploiting and using the tragedies like this for their own political ends,″ Hedgspeth said Wednesday.

The Folsom ad will be dropped for several reasons, ″not the least of which is concern for local sensitivities,″ said campaign spokeswoman Peggy Roberts.

Hubbert spokesman Michael Tucker said the campaign’s radio ad ran on a Gadsden radio station only after the station asked for it. It agreed to stop Thursday at the request of the campaign, he said.

The Blount campaign couldn’t be reached for comment.

The primary election is June 7.