CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – An attorney representing a self-proclaimed white supremacist says his client’s conviction on Wednesday was based on fear and not the law.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty reports, a Chicago jury convicted William White of Roanoke, Va., of encouraging violence against the jury foreman in the trial of another white supremacist, Matthew Hale, in 2004.
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White’s attorney says it was the white supremacist movement, and not his client, that was on trial. The attorney says he is confident that his client’s conviction will be overturned on free speech grounds.
Prosecutors say while the neo-Nazi’s posting of Mark Hoffman’s personal information did not specifically call on people to harm him, such was White’s intent. White had told others to shoot or kill everyone on the jury in the Hale trial, prosecutors said.
At trial, Hoffman, who is openly gay, tearfully recounted in testimony how he was inundated with hateful text messages and phone calls from people who had his photo and knew his address, and that he was in a relationship with an African-American. He was given protection after the incident.
Prosecutors’ criminal complaint against White said Hoffman received a cell phone call on Sept. 11, 2008, from a man who asked the juror’s name, whether the juror lived at a specific address, and whether the juror had served on the panel for the Matthew Hale trial. Afterward, the caller said, “that’s all I need to know” and hung up, the complaint said.
Hoffman received about 50 cell phone text messages afterward, some of which were garbled, but others of which had messages in support of white supremacy, the complaint said.
Upon receiving the complaint, authorities entered Hoffman’s name into Google, and found a posting on a website, which purported to include the juror’s name, date of birth, and home address, and claimed the juror “played a key role in convicting Hale,” the complaint said. The entry also included the juror’s purported cell and office phone numbers, the name of a partner and a cat, and a color photograph, the complaint said. All the information had been correct, except that Hoffman had since moved.
The website was later traced to a magazine operated by White.
Hale was convicted in an unrelated case in April 2004. He had threatened to have U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow killed for ruling against him in a trademark case involving his white supremacist group, the World Church of the Creator. Hale was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Hale and his group gained nationwide infamy when Benjamin Smith, a former member of his group, went on a shooting rampage on Fourth of July weekend 1999 in Chicago, Skokie, downstate Illinois and Indiana, targeting Jews, Asians and African-Americans. Smith shot and killed form Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, and Indiana University doctoral student Woo-Joon Yoon. He also shot and wounded six Orthodox Jewish residents of the West Rogers Park neighborhood, and an African-American minister in downstate Decatur.
When Lefkow’s husband and elderly mother were murdered in the judge’s Edgewater neighborhood home, many suspected early on that Hale had ordered the murders from prison. But Bart Ross, a former plaintiff in a case Lefkow had dismissed, later admitted to the murders upon committing suicide.