Jury weighs fate of New York man in 'death ray' case targeting Muslims

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2015 1:15 PM

By T.G. Branfalt Jr.

ALBANY, N.Y (Reuters) - A federal jury on Friday began deliberating the fate of a New York white supremacist accused of plotting to use a remote-controlled radiation device he called "Hiroshima on a light switch" to harm Muslims and President Barack Obama.

In closing arguments at the trial of Glendon Scott Crawford, Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss said the scheme was "very real, very viable and very deadly."

He said Crawford, 51, a Ku Klux Klan member from Galway, New York, should be convicted on federal charges including conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to build and use a radiological dispersal device. The third charge against Crawford is distributing information with respect to a weapon of mass destruction.

Summing up the five-day trial, Belliss played videotapes in which Crawford said he planned for decades to create the device and unleash it on his enemies - Muslims and the White House. Belliss said one target was "a certain liberal politician" who Crawford said was in the White House.

Defense lawyer Kevin Luibrand told jurors Crawford was entrapped by the government, blaming undercover FBI agents for creating the device hidden in a truck.

Luibrand, in his closing argument, said if "Crawford is guilty of anything, it is proliferating information" but said the government was responsible for creating what the media dubbed the "death ray" machine.

If convicted, Crawford faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in prison and a $2 million fine for the radiological dispersal device charge, up to life in prison for the weapon of mass destruction charge and up to 20 years in prison for the distribution of information charge.

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Crawford went to North Carolina to discuss funding his project with Chris Barker, KKK Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights, who turned out to be cooperating with the FBI.

Belliss held up a glass-enclosed metal "X-ray tube" that he said was similar to the device, saying it was proof that Crawford did "more than hand out pamphlets."

Luibrand also played several video clips of meetings between two undercover FBI agents and Crawford, who admitted he did not have the technical knowledge to make or operate such a device.

"The government is not allowed to encourage someone to commit a crime," Luibrand said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)