[sixties-l] The Trial of a Radical, Finally (fwd)

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Date: Wed Oct 16 2002 - 04:16:59 EDT

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    Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 22:19:47 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: The Trial of a Radical, Finally

    The Trial of a Radical, Finally


    For 25 years, counterculture icon Ira Einhorn has dodged justice. Now, after
    a long, strange trip, he faces murder charges

    By Steven Levy

           Sept. 27 - This week, lawyers picked a jury in Philadelphia for the
    Ira Einhorn murder trial, with opening arguments to begin on Monday. It's an
    understatement to say that this is an event long overdue.

               TWENTY FIVE YEARS ago this month-Jimmy Carter was president and
    the first Star Wars movie had just been released-Helen "Holly" Maddux, then
    a vivacious 30-year-old, was called to the apartment she once shared with
    Ira Einhorn, her longtime boyfriend of several years. That summer, she had
    terminated the relationship, and a frantic Einhorn was demanding she return
    to his second-floor flat near the University of Pennsylvania. Otherwise, he
    threatened, he would toss her clothes on the street. Holly went back to the
    apartment. She was never seen alive again. In March 1979, her remains were
    found in the apartment, in a steamer trunk stored in Einhorn's closet. "You
    found what you found," Einhorn told the cops who located the body. A more
    unambiguous set of circumstances could not be imagined.

            But when Ira Einhorn is concerned, nothing is quite simple. No matter
    what you think of this 62-year-old former radical-and he's perhaps the most
    despised figure in a town that once booed Santa Claus-Einhorn has done an
    amazing job of thwarting justice for a quarter century.

             Before the arrest he was Philadelphia's leading counterculture icon
    and a figure in New Age circles. In 1981, he jumped bail, eluding capture
    until five years ago. By then, he'd been tried en absentia and convicted.
    But he fought his extradition from France (where he was living quietly with
    his new wife), losing his battle only after the state of Pennsylvania passed
    a law to allow him a retrial. Now, he's finally back in the docket. His act
    has cleaned up-for perhaps the first time since his 1957 high-school
    graduation picture, Einhorn is wearing a tie-but the case against him is
    basically the same as it always was. And that means that in all likelihood,
    Ira Einhorn's luck has run out.

            I'm something of an expert on Einhorn, having written a book about
    the case. Though I began my work in 1985 with an open mind, by the time I
    finished almost three years later, no questions remained for me concerning
    Einhorn's guilt. (Einhorn is supposedly furious with "The Unicorn's Secret,"
    which was later made into an NBC mini-series, and his lawyers have cited my
    1988 book as prejudicial in one of their defense motions.) Assistant
    District Attorney Joel Rosen, the prosecutor who won the 1993 trial in
    absentia, has loads of evidence and should easily obtain a conviction. But
    his foe, experienced criminal lawyer William Cannon, will give Einhorn a
    vigorous defense. It promises to be a fascinating few of weeks. Here's a
    rundown on the case.

      How intact is the case 25 years after the murder? Generally, a long lapse
    of time favors the defendant-witnesses die, memories fade, evidence gets
    misplaced. But Rosen is offering the same lineup of witnesses who were
    devastating for Einhorn in the first trial. These include friends of Ira and
    Holly's who will attest to her rejection of him and his inability to accept
    it; those who saw evidence of Ira's physical violence toward Holly;
    neighbors who literally smelled something horrible not long after the murder
    and a woman whom Einhorn asked to help dispose of the trunk-the day after
    the alleged murder. And then there's the trunk itself, which most recently
    made a star appearance in the civil trial against Einhorn three years ago.
    (Jurors, knowing the trunk's macabre history, reportedly flinched when the
    Maddux attorney flung the lid open.) The Maddux family, incidentally, won a
    wrongful death verdict of $900 million against Einhorn.

      What can the defense do? Take the O. J. route-look for weak spots in the
    prosecution's case and try to foment some doubt. Or, as Cannon put it to
    reporters, try to "disrupt the theory of the course of events" as presented
    by the prosecution. He claims he has three witnesses who will say that they
    saw Holly Maddux months after she was called to Einhorn's apartment. But
    these are apparently the same people who were found by private detectives
    hired by the Maddux family months after her disappearance-people who did not
    know Holly and simply saw a willowy blonde with a resemblance to the missing
    woman. There's also some confusion about forensic tests of the floorboards
    in Einhorn's closet: one lab found organic matter, another one didn't. But
    how can that ambiguity trump the fact that Holly's body was indeed in the
    closet and in the trunk Einhorn purchased? Basically, there's no plausible
    scenario other than the obvious-Einhorn killed her and put her in the
    closet, which also held her identification papers.

             A look at a list of the defense's "potential witnesses" read to the
    jury shows the desperation of the Einhorn team. Besides the expected
    forensic experts, there is a bit of celebrity power on the list, a testament
    to Einhorn's pre-arrest connections. But rocker Peter Gabriel has no
    evidence to present about the murder, nor does actress Ellen Burstyn. (It's
    unlikely either will appear.) Less recognizable character witnesses will be
    of dubious value. One potential witness is a woman who met Einhorn in a hot
    tub at Esalen, the famous New Age retreat at Big Sur, Calif., in the period
    between his arrest and his illegal flight. Others on the list, like
    Episcopal priest David Gracie and scholar Stafford Beer, can't help Ira at
    all, since they're dead.

      Will Einhorn testify? Cannon has indicated that Einhorn may indeed take the
    stand, unless the case seems to be so going well that it seems unnecessary.
    (Einhorn is an extremely active participant in his defense, and seems to be
    champing at the bit to directly make his own case.) If Einhorn does testify
    on his own behalf, there's every indication that he'll try to flaunt his
    1970s connections and activities in an attempt to convince jurors that
    someone in the CIA or KGB considered him such a danger that they'd attempt
    to frame him with murder. It's an extremely hard sell; he tried a similar
    approach in one of his extradition hearings in France and after a few
    minutes of his incoherent ramblings, his own lawyers tried to shut him up.
    Einhorn is supposed to be a smart guy, but he is totally clueless on what
    this case is all about-the brutal, very personal, murder of a 30-year-old
    woman. (Prosecutor Joel Rosen, in contrast, will never let the jury forget
    this.) Judging from a handwritten missive Einhorn sent to supporters from
    prison recently, Einhorn thinks the case is only about him-he scrawled nine
    pages of his comings and goings before his arrest and never addressed the
    actual facts of the case, nor acknowledged that the victim in this case was
    his lover for five years. In fact, he never mentions Holly Maddux's name.

            Finally, if Einhorn protests that he is a peaceful man he'll will run
    smack against his past. In researching my book, I discovered that Ira
    Einhorn had engaged in previous acts of violence, in eerily similar
    circumstances to the death of Holly Maddux. After an assault of a previous
    girlfriend, he wrote that "Violence always marks the end of a relationship."
    How do you spin that to a jury?

            Being Ira Einhorn's lawyer will be a very tough job.

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