FBI Says Whitworth Print Found on Classified Document
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Espionage defendant Jerry Whitworth left a single palmprint on a 603-page classified document about naval warfare which was found in the home of confessed spymaster John Walker, an FBI fingerprint expert has testified.
John C. Saunders said Thursday he found hundreds of fingerprints and palm prints on the document titled, ″Naval Warfare Publication: Threat Intelligence Summary, Naval Air Forces,″ but the only link to Whitworth was a palm print on page 182.
The document also contained fingerprints of Walker and his son, Michael, both of whom have pleaded guilty to espionage, Saunders said.
It was the first time in Whitworth’s three-week-old trial that the prosecution has linked him through physical evidence to any classified material found in Walker’s Norfolk, Va., home.
During cross-examination, however, Saunders conceded that a palm print such as Whitworth’s could be left if a person leaned on a document lying on a desk.
″Can you tell us if Mr. Whitworth read that document?″ asked defense attorney Tony Tamburello.
″I could not determine that, no,″ said the witness.
Most of the hundreds of prints found on the Navy document were identified by Saunders as those of Michael Walker
Tamburello pointed out that Whitworth’s fingerprints were not found on numerous other classified documents taken from Walker’s home, including one dealing with the nuclear Tomahawk cruise missile.
Whitworth, 46, a retired Navy radioman from Davis, is charged with supplying Walker with classified Navy documents for sale to the Soviet Union over nine years. Whitworth was indicted on 13 counts of espionage, seven of which carry potential life sentences.
He says he is innocent and that Walker is using him as ″a sacrificial lamb″ to win leniency from the government.
Walker’s anticipated star witness testimony was abruptly postponed Thursday by the trial judge, who said he would be closing his court the week of April 21 to attend a judicial conference and would have an abbreviated trial schedule next week because his clerk would be absent.
He said Walker will take the stand April 28.
Walker, 48, who retired from the Navy and became a private detective, has admitted being the man nicknamed ″Jaws″ who led a family spy ring which sold secrets to the Soviet Union for 17 years.
Prosecutors on Thursday also questioned FBI handwriting expert Jerry Richards, who said he found Whitworth’s writing on several handwritten notes which appeared also to contain Walker’s handwriting. The contents of the notes remained a mystery to the courtroom audience. Although jurors were given copies of the notes, prosecutors refused to tell reporters or the public what was written on them. They said it would be explained next week.
The Whitworth trial is in recess until Monday.