• Fromme Receives Life Sentence

Fromme Receives Life Sentence

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 18 — Charles Manson disciple Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, convicted of attempting to assassinate President Ford, was sentenced Wednesday to life imprisonment.

U.S. Dist. Judge Thomas J. MacBride told the 27-year-old follower of convicted mass murder Manson he was convinced she was committed to violence and was beyond rehabilitation.

Under federal law, Fromme will be eligible for parole in 15 years. She is appealing her conviction.

MacBride pronounced the maximum sentence after a dramatic courtroom outburst in which Fromme hurled an apple at U.S. Atty. Dwayne Keyes. The apple shattered as it hit the prosecutor on his right temple.

Keyes was in the midst of asking the judge to hand down the most “severe” punishment. “She still has shown herself to have feelings of hatred,” Keyes said.

At that point, Fromme, who was standing before the judge, reared back and hurled a red apple at Keyes who was about 4 feet away.

“He’s the one talking about hate! I never said anything about hate,” Fromme shouted.

Momentarily shaken, Keyes wiped his head with a white handkerchief and continued,”…she has reached a point, your honor, where rehabilitation may be out of reach.”

Fromme had concealed the apple in a red cloak she carried into the courtroom.

Fromme is the first woman in American history to be tried and convicted of attempting to assassinate a president, and the first person convicted under a 1965 law covering presidential assassination attempts.

Throughout the trial, defense attorney John Virga argued that Fromme intended only to call attention to her alarm over environmental pollution and the imprisonment of Manson. She did not intend to kill the President, Virga said.

MacBride sternly addressed Fromme as he passed sentence.

“The evidence in this case…has convinced me that you would murder or cause another to commit murder in the false and distorted belief that only terror and violence can save our environment and natural resources,” MacBride said.

He said to take a life to call attention to a cause was “the most reprehensible and despicable crime” possible.

“A murder such as the one you attempted in this case would have impoverished the nation, and finally it would have done nothing to serve the cause you espouse,” MacBride said.

MacBride, who was appointed to the federal bench by President John F. Kennedy, declared, “Had John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, or Martin Luther King been allowed to live out their lives rather than having fallen at the hands of a person like yourself, they could have accomplished more for our environment and for all mankind than all the terrorists in the history of the world, you and Manson included.”

As MacBride reached the climax of his remarks leading to the disclosure of her sentence, he took note that as a Manson follower she had carved an “x” into her forehead during the Tate-LaBianca murder trial of Manson.

The judge said, “I believe the only way to deter you from further violence, or the encouragement of violence on the part of others…is to separate you from the society with which you can’t agree and the society from which you have already crossed yourself out as you have indicated by marking the ‘x’ on your forehead.

“Accordingly, being unable to find any reason or justification for imposing a sentence of less severity than the maximum provided by Congress for the commission of the crime of which you have been convicted, it is the sentence of this court that you be imprisoned for the term of your natural life in the custody of the attorney general of the United States,” the judge concluded.

The federal Bureau of Prisons will not make a decision for at least 10 days as to which prison she will be held, a spokesman in the Western Regional office said Wednesday.

Fromme, screaming loudly, was carried out of the courtroom in a horizontal position by three deputy U.S. marshals. Fromme’s roommate, Sandra Good, who was a spectator in the courtroom, shouted, “Animals!”

Shortly before her sentencing, Fromme was given an opportunity to address the court without limits on her subject area, a forum she was repeatedly denied during the trial which she boycotted.

“I want Manson out,” she told the court. “I want my world at peace. I know none of you can bring it about. We have 10 years of air and water left. I’ve stood with a gun and said, ‘Don’t make me shoot’ and you keep saying, ‘Do it! Do. it! Do it!’ ”

She said she could not be rehabilitated because she didn’t believe she had done wrong. Without Manson, she said her only freedom “will be in seeing the International People’s Court of Retribution give you what you deserve.”

The so-called court has previously been identified by Fromme and Good as the tribunal which will mete out death sentences to those who pollute the environment.

Defense attorney Virga asked the court to hand down a sentence which would “lead to rehabilitation.” Virga noted that Fromme was 27 years old. “She’s young,” he said. “I feel if Lynette Fromme wanted to kill the President, he’d be dead,” Virga said.

Testimony during the trial indicated that the .45-caliber automatic wrested from Fromme by Secret Service agents had four live cartridges in the clip.

However, the court was told there was no cartridge in the firing chamber because the gun had not been cocked.

Witnesses told the court they heard Fromme say as she was taken into custody, “It didn’t go off. Can you believe it? It didn’t go off,” Numerous witnesses testified it was their impression that Fromme was frustrated and angry when she spoke those words.

In a 130-page private statement submitted to the judge, Fromme for the first time said she intentionally did not shoot the President, even though she was familiar with the weapon, UPI reported.

In her statement, she said she loaded the gun with five cartridges including one in the firing chamber. She said she then engaged a safety on the gun and ejected the round from the firing chamber before confronting the President.

In court, the judge said she had waived her opportunity to take the stand and her private statement to him “Unfortunately came too late” to have any legal impact on the trial.

A motion to appeal Fromme’s conviction was filed Wednesday morning with the court. Court Clerk Walter Fitzpatrick said it will be between 30 to 45 days before the trial transcript and other matters necessary for the appeal can be forwarded to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

At that time, the appellate court will notify, the defense and prosecution of a hearing date on which to advance arguments for and against a new trial.

MacBride’ denied defense motions Wednesday to dismiss charges against Fromme, or call for a new trial on grounds new evidence had been withheld from the defense.

The judge ruled the evidence, an FBI report, of an interview with a prosecution witness, did not contradict the witnesses’ trial testimony.

The trial marked the first time in American history that an American president had testified in a criminal trial, although four other presidents — Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Ulysses S. Grant, and Richard M. Nixon — gave written testimony or submitted documents for criminal proceedings.


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