White-Supremacist Gang Members Get Separate Trials

White-Supremacist Gang Members Get Separate Trials

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A judge has granted a request for separate trials by four of a dozen men charged together in a federal indictment for carrying out violent crimes for a white-supremacist gang .

Instead of one trial for the 12 defendants, who are accused of carrying out crimes for the Soldiers of the Aryan Culture, there now will be five, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart ruled on Friday. Four of the men will be tried separately, while the remaining eight will be tried together.

Some of the cases had to be separated because a defendant cannot call to the stand a co-defendant who intends to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Stewart said.

The four men who will be tried separately say that a co-defendant could offer evidence that would clear them, but would not testify at a joint trial where the same jury would decide everyone's fate.

Stewart rejected motions by three other defendants who had requested separate trials on other grounds.

Authorities believe the gang operated a methamphetamine ring throughout Utah from both inside and outside the state's prisons. A federal indictment unsealed in December 2003 charged the 12 Utah men under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, or RICO, law.

The gang formed in the Utah State Prison in 1997, and almost all the members are current inmates, fugitives or parolees, police have said. Authorities allege Aryan members within the prison cause problems with other inmates through threats, intimidation and assaults.

Paul Warner, the U.S. Attorney for Utah, has said the goal of the federal prosecution is to dismantle the organization by separating its leaders.

The trials are scheduled for September and October.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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