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Jurors Mull Missing Atheist Verdict

May 30, 2000

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ Jurors began deliberating Tuesday whether an ex-convict conspired to kidnap and rob wealthy atheist leader Madalyn Murray O’Hair and her family, who have been missing since 1995.

Attorneys for Gary Karr urged the jury to acquit him, arguing that prosecutors did not erase reasonable doubt that he was involved in a scheme to kidnap O’Hair and take $500,000 in gold coins. Karr could face life in prison if convicted.

``You have a right to expect them to show convincingly, absolutely what happened,″ defense attorney Christie Williams said in closing arguments. ``They haven’t done that.″

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerald Carruth countered that Karr should be found guilty even if he participated in only some of the alleged plot.

O’Hair, her son Jon Garth Murray and her granddaughter Robin Murray O’Hair disappeared from San Antonio and were later killed and dismembered, according to government investigators. Their bodies have not been found.

During two weeks of testimony, prison inmates testified that Karr, 52, who has a history of violence, told them he was involved in the slayings. Federal agents presented hundreds of telephone calls, car rentals, airplane trips and other financial transactions they said implicated Karr.

Karr also gave authorities a statement in which he acknowledged acting as an errand boy and bodyguard for the missing family during the last few weeks they were known to be alive.

Much of the evidence involved another suspect who has not been charged, David Waters, the O’Hairs’ former office manager. Investigators believe he was the mastermind behind the scheme; his attorney has denied it.

Waters is in prison on federal weapons charges. Another alleged co-conspirator was found dead in Texas in 1995 with his head and hands cut off.

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