Walker Credibility Attacked
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Confessed spymaster John Walker once said he would make up stories about Jerry Whitworth because his old Navy buddy was ″running his mouth too much,″ a witnesses testified as the defense opened its case in Whitworth’s spy trial.
Laurie Robinson, a former partner with Walker in a detective agency, testified Tuesday that Walker once discussed his plans for a plea-bargain with the government and told her he intended to ″cooperate and then make up stories for them.″
″Only he knew who was involved in the espionage,″ she said. ″He could take anyone and everyone down with him. ...He told me he intended to take Jerry Whitworth down with him.″
″Why?″ asked defense lawyer Tony Tamburello.
″He (Whitworth) was running his mouth too much,″ said Ms. Robinson. She said Walker told her ″he was going to make up stories″ about Whitworth.
Ms. Robinson, testifying under a grant of immunity from prosecution, also said Walker once admitted perjuring himself in another case, asked her to set up the defendant in that case to be murdered, and threatened to have her prosecuted if she kept talking to the FBI about him.
The first day of the defense case steered clear of Whitworth’s dealings with Walker and concentrated on shaking the credibility of the confessed leader of a family spy ring. Defense lawyers have refused to say whether Whitworth will testify.
Whitworth, 46, of Davis, a retired Navy radioman, faces seven espionage counts that carry potential life sentences, and also is charged with evading taxes on the $332,000 he allegedly got from Walker.
Walker pleaded guilty in a Baltimore federal court last October to spying for 17 years and agreed to testify against Whitworth in exchange for a reduced sentence for Walker’s son, Michael, who also pleaded guilty.
The 48-year-old former Navy radio instructor described Whitworth, a former Navy buddy, as his chief supplier of stolen documents and secret information on vital Navy code and communications systems for nearly a decade.
Ms. Robinson, who spent five years in Walker’s detective agency in Norfolk, Va., agreed with Tamburello’s suggestion that Walker was a ″master of deceit.″
On one occasion, she said, Walker admitted having lied when he testified in a wiretapping court-martial against one of his investigators, Dan Rivas, denying he had ever seen a tape recorder that actually belonged to him.
She said Walker told her the case was coming too close to him, and asked her to ″lure Dan Rivas back into the Virginia Beach area in order to bump him off.″ She said she did not comply.
Another time, she said, Walker took her flying and had her throw a manila envelope out the window into a North Carolina wood, telling her it was a report to a client in a child custody case.
After Walker pleaded guilty, Ms. Robinson said, he told her last December that he had found out she was talking to the FBI, and ″to keep my mouth shut because he could take down anyone he chose.″