Program Director of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Former Black Panther Party leader Geronimo Pratt has been fighting for 26 years to get a new trial. He was convicted in 1972 of shooting teacher Caroline Olsen to death and critically sounding her husband during a 1968 robbery on a Santa Monica tennis court.
But Geronimo Pratt has always maintained his innocence, saying he was at a Panther meeting in Oakland at the time of the murder. Pratt and his lawyers also say that he was the victim of an FBI operation that aimed to destroy the Black Panther Party — the Counter Intelligence Program or COINTELPRO. In fact, the key prosecution witness at this trial — Julius Butler — is alleged to have been an FBI informant.
Yesterday in Santa Monica, California, a court heard closing arguments in a hearing to determine whether Geronimo Pratt will win a new trial.
Here to update us on the situation is Frank Stoltz, the news director of KPFK in Los Angeles.
TAPE: Excerpts from the hearing in Santa Monica, California on whether to grant a new trial to Geronimo Pratt.