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Three Soldiers Charged in Black Couple’s Slaying

December 9, 1995

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (AP) _ Investigators charged a third Fort Bragg soldier Friday in the slaying of a black couple who police say were gunned down on a downtown street by white soldiers looking for blacks to harass.

Police said the third man, Sgt. Randy Lee Meadows, 21, doesn’t appear to have the same racist views as the two men already charged in the killings early Thursday.

``I don’t think he shares the same beliefs the other two share,″ said police Investigator Brian Flannery.

Police found white-supremacist pamphlets in a mobile home where one defendant, Pvt. James Norman Burmeister II, rented a room. Also in the room were instructions for making bombs and a semiautomatic pistol believed to be the murder weapon, police said.

Burmeister, 20, of Thompson, Pa., and Pvt. Malcolm Wright, 21, of Lexington, Ky., were ordered held without bail on first-degree murder charges. They could get the death penalty for the deaths of Michael James, 36, and Jackie Burden, 27.

Police said the two did not belong to any white supremacist groups.

``It would appear to us that they are `wannabes’ or perhaps doing some modeling, gang-modeling,″ Police Chief Ron Hansen said.

Meadows, of Illinois, was held without bail on two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and has a court hearing Monday. Police investigators said he was the driver. If convicted, Meadows could face up to 80 years in prison.

All three suspects are members of the 82nd Airborne Division.

The victims, who police believe were chosen at random, were shot in the head at close range. At least five shots were fired.

Police believe the drunken soldiers had set out to find and harass blacks, something they had apparently done before.

``I just want to see them and ask them `Why?′ that’s all,″ said Lillie James, the mother of Michael James.

James’s relatives said he had recently been released from prison on a drug conviction and hoped to reunite with his wife and three children, who live in New Jersey.

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