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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
July 22, 2010
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Publication Date: 
June 1, 1981
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680028-2.pdf121.52 KB
STAT Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680028-2 By Laura-A- Kiernan Wnsb1ngtonPoet8trr2Wrf er - On Feb. 14, 1979, Guillermo Novo Sampol be- leved he would be convicted of murder and con- spiracy in the car-bombing assassination of for- r:er Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his young aids Ronni Karpen Moffitt.: "It's sure that they screwed us," he said-. Spanish to friends in the hushed courtroom mo ments before the jury returned a verdict. "Viva Cuba:" shouted Novo's codefendant Alvin Rozsa Diaz, his fist raised, after the jury foreman confirmed the verdict Novo thought was coming: guilty on all counts. On Saturday, those two men -spared from life prison terms and granted. a new trial by the U.S. Court of Appeals - heard that -a second jury had reached the opposite conclusion. "Not g,_rilty," foreman Catherine Nicholson calmly re- nested 10 times over the muffled sobs of Ross' wife and Novo's girlfriend. The jury convicted Novo only on two charges of making false state- ments to a grand jury. Novo and Ross are mem- bers of the anti-Castro Cuban Nationalist Move- ment based in northern New Jersey. The stunning reversal concluded a three-week retrial that was distinctly different from the orig- inal - there was new ; evidence; new defense strategy and tactics; a' new,. more highly educated, younger __..jury-, and prosecution witnesses from:the. first trial who were, banned from the second. Even before the verdict was announced, these changes had convinced prosecution and defense lawyers that the retrial was a "real horse race."_ . Defense lawyers Paul A. Goldberger and Law- rence A. Dubin completely`changed their then about who had orchestrated the Letelier murder Instead of blaming the U.S. Central Intelligen Agency, as they did unsuccessfully in the first trial, they blamed Letelier's' murder on the Chilean government; its secret police, once known as DINA, and on Michael Vernon Townley, the key prosecution witness.s-_i:,.;.:_,:.... _., THE v1ASHINS!.J POST 1 June 1981 Townley, an American-born- DINA agent, tes- The-' prosecution's -ca.Qe , remained titled that he recruited the. Cubans to help hun basically the same, except for testimo- nc im matin m o nts say a ui. i r e g. aww DNA superiors. Letelier, an outspoken critic of! Novo and Ross had alle wiry marls. the military government of Chilean President Au- about the Letelier murder to fellow gusto.Pinochet, had been labeled an enemy of the inmates at a New York City jaiL This., country and- targeted for murder, Townley told testimony was prohibited by the ap- the jury. 17 peals court. The . defense, now given a second chance to Despite changes in, evidence, strat- attack Townley's story, said Townley was lying tol egy and witnesses, the defense lawyers I protect himself. They argued that Townley had : considered jury selection- the most. ecauseof implicated the. Cubans to shield the Pinochet,~ the important part complexities of the trial. government. I "If ,you "_ don't swallow Townley," said defense } intricate murder. plot, which included phony names and passports, aborted i -,lawyer Dubin yesterday, "You don't i : schemes, clandestine meetings and the, 'swallow the case." .- ' grisly assassination itself; the under-,;: The turning point in the defense's lying political intrigue and the shad; assault on Townley's credibility came owy cast of characters - the lawyer3 when they convinced Judge Barring- I looked for jurors who could penetrate ton D. Parker to allow the jury to. the flaws in the government's case. hear evidence he had:-not allowed ate the first trial about a taped telephone .conversation between Townley and a friend in Santiago, Chile.' On the tape, the jury heard Town ley tell his friend that he would re- cruit people to threaten Parker so the' judge would -remove himself from the The tape was given to the defense during the first trial by an attorney for Juan Manuel Contreras Sepulveda, the former head 'of DINA, who was indicted in the Letelier case with two ,.other DINA officials, all of whom Chile refused to extradite for trial. Parker, however, refused to allow the tape to be heard at the first trial, a decision the appeals court ' said was wrong. At the retrial, Parker refused to let the prosecution explain that the tape had come from Chile, that its source was unknown, or that it had been passed - along by an attome . ;'working for the. ormer head of DINAJ They found them in a government lawyer, a man with a prestigious grad uate degree in business; an investiga- tor for the local Alcoholic Beverage Control board and a jury foreman with an Ivy-League college degree. "We just wanted some smart peo pie," Dubin said. When that jury returned from 17 hours of deliberations, 10 deputy U.S. marshals were posted at the entrances W the courtroom and beside the two defendants. This time, however, when the decision, was announced, - the marshals stepped: aside. ' Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2010/07/22 : CIA-RDP90-00552R000403680028-2