Men charged in police officer’s death to enter pleas

Nearly a year after being charged, eight former members of a militant black organization accused in connection with the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police officer are set to enter pleas in the case next month, their attorneys said Monday in San Francisco Superior Court.

State prosecutors in January charged Richard Brown, of San Francisco; Ray Boudreaux and Henry Jones, of Altadena; Herman Bell and Anthony Bottom, both in custody in New York; Francisco Torres, of Queens, N.Y.; and Harold Taylor, of Panama City, Fla. with the murder of Sgt. John Young on Aug. 29, 1971.

All seven men are also facing charges of conspiracy to murder police officers for the attempted murder of four officers, the bombing of a police officer’s funeral, the murder of two New York City police officers, the attempted bombing of the Mission police station and three armed bank robberies, all between 1968 and 1973, according to authorities.

An eighth man, Richard O’Neal, of San Francisco, is also charged with conspiracy to murder police officers but was not charged as an active participant in Young’s murder.

Young, 22, was working at San Francisco’s Ingleside station that night when two men entered the station, stuck a shotgun through the hole in the protective glass and fatally shot him.

Following the spirited chanting of “Free the San Francisco Eight” outside the courthouse Monday morning, dozens of their supporters crowded the courtroom to listen to the proceedings.

The defendants, all former Black Liberation Army members who now range in ages fromtheir mid-50s to early 70s, listened as a judge heard motions by their attorneys to compel the release of further evidence in the case.

All except Bell and Bottom remain out of custody after posting bail earlier this year.

Attorneys agreed to return on Jan. 10 for the eight men to enter pleas.

An April 21 date was tentatively scheduled for a preliminary hearing, when a judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence for the men to stand trial.

Special Assistant Attorney General David Druliner estimated Monday that the preliminary hearing itself could last six months. A possible trial may not come until early 2009, he said.

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