Unabomber News History

Copyright 1996 The Chronicle Publishing Co.

The San Francisco Chronicle



LENGTH: 516 words

HEADLINE: Pretrial Ruling Against Defense In Unabomb Case Notes from search kept from suspect's lawyers

BYLINE: Michael Taylor, Chronicle Staff Writer

DATELINE: Sacramento


A federal magistrate ruled yesterday that government prosecutors do not have to give attorneys of Unabomber suspect Theodore Kaczynski notes handwritten by federal agents when they were searching Kaczynski's Montana cabin for evidence in April.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory Hollows said those notes, which identify every federal agent who touched evidence in the cabin, were not material to Kaczynski's defense case. Hollows said he would issue a written ruling later this week.

One of Kaczynski's attorneys, Judy Clarke, argued that these logs detailing ''who went in and out of the cabin'' could show that the ''chain of custody'' in securing and examining the 22,000 pages of the 54-year-old former math professor's personal journals and other papers could have been ''contaminated.''

''This goes to the purity of evidence that was seized,'' Clarke said, ''and to who had custody of it.'' She said that it's possible one of the many agents who inspected a given piece of evidence could have removed a page from it. If the defense knows only the name of the original agent who seized the evidence and not the names of other agents who examined it, the chain of custody would be broken. Ultimately, using this broken-chain-of- custody theory, the defense could lead a jury to believe that a government agent had filched a document that could have been useful to the defense.

Prosecutors, however, said they have bent over backward to provide the defense with material gathered during the 17-year history of the UNABOM case, but this latest request was too much.

''We have to establish a limit,'' Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Freccero said of the government's decision to withhold the logs from Clarke and federal Public Defender Quin Denvir. ''And so we draw the line here because those are internal government documents.'' In court records filed last week, government prosecutors argued that ''disclosure of internal files often raises serious concerns about the privacy rights'' of witnesses and victims, as well as the ''confidentiality'' of the government's investigative methods.

Federal prosecutors also said that at Kaczynski's trial they plan to introduce evidence of ''actual or planned bombing incidents other than those charged in the indictment, as well as additional acts of actual or planned violence and vandalism.'' The government did not elaborate what those alleged acts might be.

Kaczynski, who was not present in court yesterday, was arrested at his cabin April 3 and indicted by a Sacramento federal grand jury 10 weeks later on charges of killing two men in Sacramento in 1985 and 1995 and with injuring a Yale University professor and a University of California at San Francisco geneticist with bombs sent through the mail.

Kaczynski has also been indicted in the mail-bomb slaying of a New Jersey advertising executive and with three other bombing incidents linked to the Unabomber. In all, the Unabomber is suspected of killing three and injuring 23 in 16 incidents between May 1978 and April 1995.