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Thursday, June 16, 2005

CBS 46 Atlanta - State Fights Release of Klan File in Wayne Williams Case

CBS 46 Atlanta - State Fights Release of Klan File in Wayne Williams CaseState Fights Release of Klan File in Wayne Williams Case
Jun 16, 2005, 8:12 PM

ATLANTA (AP) -- The state is fighting a federal magistrate judge's order that could eventually allow convicted killer Wayne Williams access to wiretaps of reputed white supremacists that were collected during the Atlanta child murders investigation of a quarter-century ago.

In a motion filed in U.S. District Court this week, the state Attorney General's Office also is disputing the portion of the judge's May 31 order involving a request to allow Williams access to the juvenile records of a key witness against Williams.

The evidence was contained in the so-called "8100" file, which lawyers for Williams say was withheld from the defense at his trial. Court papers say the file recorded the state's investigation of the Ku Klux Klan's possible involvement in the murders of 29 people -- mostly black boys -- in the Atlanta area between 1979-1981.

Williams was convicted of two murders and blamed for 22 others, but he was never charged in the other cases. He is currently serving a life sentence. A local police chief last month reopened the investigation into five of the deaths, saying he doesn't believe Williams committed any of the murders.

Williams, who is black, has long contended that he was framed and that Atlanta officials covered up evidence that the Klan was involved in the killings to avoid a race war in the city. State officials have countered that they believe they arrested the right man and that there is no evidence the Klan was involved.

The magistrate judge's order required the state to give the judge anything potentially helpful to Williams in the "8100" file, including any nonconsensual monitoring tapes produced during the investigation of a group of white supremacists that some believed committed the murders.

The order also required the state to give the judge the juvenile records of a then-15-year-old boy whose testimony at Williams' trial placed Williams in the company of one of the murder victims on the last day the victim was seen alive. Williams' lawyers say they have information that the witness was in jail at the time he supposedly saw Williams.

The order says that once the judge reviews all of the material, she will then determine what if anything to give to Williams.

The state says in its opposition filed Tuesday that the judge's order would require officials to conduct "a fishing expedition into documents that are not under" their control. The state wants the federal court to throw out the magistrate judge's order or at least ask Williams' lawyers to first question other agencies that might have the documents.

Williams lawyer Michael Lee Jackson said Thursday the state's argument amounts to more stonewalling.

"It is stunning that they would continue to oppose our discovery when we've shown a highly justifiable basis in fact for our request," Jackson said.

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