SFPD Murder Trial Delayed 38 Year and 29 Days

 Attorneys postponed the preliminary hearing for seven men charged with the 1971 killing of a San Francisco police sergeant.
The preliminary hearing was to begin today for seven reputed former members of the Black Liberation Army, a militant offshoot of the Black  Panther Party, charged in 2007 by the state attorney general's office with  the murder of Sgt. John Young at the Ingleside station on Aug. 29, 1971.

But due to scheduling conflicts, the case was continued until July 6. Nearly three months have been set aside to complete the hearing, after  which a judge will decide if the men should stand trial on the charges.

According to prosecutors, nine armed men attacked the station late that evening. Young was hit from close range by shotgun blasts fired through  the public counter window of the station's business office. A female clerk  was hit in the arm and survived.

Following the shootings, the suspects tried to ignite a bomb and blow up the station but failed, prosecutors said.

Defendants Herman Bell, 61; Anthony Bottom (now Jalil Muntaqim), 57; Francisco Torres, 60; Richard Brown, 68; Ray Boudreaux, 66; Henry Jones,  73; and Harold Taylor, 60, all face charges of murder.

Bell, Muntaqim and Torres are also charged with conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors say Bell fired the shotgun that killed Young and injured the clerk.

The conspiracy charges relate to a series of crimes between 1968 and 1973, including the attempted murder of four police 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.

About 100 supporters of the men rallied outside the court building this morning, chanting and carrying signs reading "Free the SF 8." Charges  against an eighth man, Richard O'Neal, were dismissed last year.

The groups claim some of the men, including a possible prosecution witness, signed confessions under police torture in New Orleans in 1973, and  that no new evidence has been brought forward since then to justify the  charges.

"They're innocent," said attorney Stuart Hanlon, who represents Bell.

"You never get a fair trial if you wait 35 years to prosecute, with no new evidence," he added.

San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar also attended the rally. He said he plans to introduce a resolution at the board's meeting Tuesday condemning  the use of torture and asking Attorney General Jerry Brown to drop the  charges.

"This is COINTELPRO 2009," said Mar, referring to FBI covert counterintelligence programs conducted between the 1950s and early 1970s  against dissident political groups, including the Black Panthers.

Mar accused authorities of using similar tactics now, "under the  guise of homeland security."

"This is a human rights violation ... that people are being tortured," said rally organizer Javad Jahi.

"They're spending millions ... of our tax dollars on a crime they didn't commit," he said.

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