Witness Captured in Child Molestation Trial
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A jailhouse informant who fled before he could finish testifying in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial was captured early Friday, a prosecutor said.
Deputy District Attorney Roger Gunson said the witness, George Freeman, was taken into custody without incident by sheriff’s deputies at 5:45 a.m. ″at a residence where he had been staying.″
Freeman had failed to show up for cross-examination Thursday on his claim that defendant Raymond Buckey admitted during a jail cell conversation to molesting children at the school in suburban Manhattan Beach.
Buckey’s lawyer has branded Freeman a liar and was awaiting the chance to cross-examine the witness when he disappeared.
Gunson declined to name the city where Freeman was arrested, citing a court order that required that Freeman’s residence be kept secret to protect him from alleged death threats.
Freeman was being held under $1 million bond, Gunson said.
He said Freeman would appear before a judge Tuesday for a review of whether the order for his arrest was valid, and whether he can be kept in custody.
The review will be conducted by a judge other than Superior Judge William Pounders, who is presiding over the McMartin trial, also set to resume Tuesday.
When Freeman failed to appear in court, he sent word that he feared for his life and needed time before he could return.
Freeman, 45, an ex-convict with a 15-year crime record, was granted immunity from prosecution for past perjury to compel his further testimony in the McMartin case Tuesday.
He missed a court appearance Wednesday when he was treated at a hospital for bronchitis, then disappeared on Thursday.
Buckey, 29, and his mother, Peggy, 60, are charged with 100 counts of molestation and conspiracy at the defunct preschool. They are the only remaining defendants out of seven originally charged in the four-year-old case.
Last week, Freeman testified that Buckey confessed in a jail cell conversation to molesting at least two children at the school, committing incest with his sister and burying pornographic pictures of children at the school.