Prosecution Rests in Pa. Race-Riot Case
Mar. 11, 2003
YORK, Pa. (AP) _ Prosecutors wrapped up their case Tuesday against two black men charged in the 1969 race-riot slaying of a white officer, after presenting seven witnesses who have said they saw one or both of the defendants firing guns in the victim's direction.
The final prosecution witness on the fifth day of testimony Tuesday was the widow of the victim, rookie patrolman Henry Schaad.
Sonja Schaad-Gilmore testified that her husband had never made racist statements, as prosecutors tried to show that Schaad should not be implicated by testimony about police brutality against blacks during the riots.
Seven witnesses all have pointed the finger at defendant Stephen Freeland. The only one who also accused defendant Leon Wright was his brother, Michael Wright, whose testimony surprised even prosecutors.
Leon Wright declined to testify Tuesday and his lawyer, William Fulton, did not present a defense. Freeland's attorney, Terry McGowan, was expected to present a brief defense.
Schaad, 22, was mortally wounded by gunfire July 18, 1969, the second day of rioting, when he and two other officers drove an armored police through a black neighborhood. He died two weeks later.
Freeland, 51, is accused of firing the fatal shot, while Wright, 54, is accused of being one of a group of black men who fired at the police truck.
Both defendants pleaded innocent to first- and second-degree murder charges and face up to life in prison if convicted.
During the 10 days of rioting, two were killed, dozens were injured and entire blocks were burned before 400 state police and National Guardsmen stepped in.
Three days after Schaad was shot, a black woman was shot to death when she and her family tried to drive through a predominantly white neighborhood.
A jury in October convicted two white ex-gang members of second-degree murder in that case but acquitted ex-mayor Charlie Robertson, who was accused of inciting whites to violence against blacks. Six other white men pleaded guilty to lesser charges and the case of another man is pending.