APnv 06/04 0219 Layton By BOB EGELKO Associated Press Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- For

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APnv 06/04 0219 Layton By BOB EGELKO Associated Press Writer SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Former People's Temple member Larry Layton has been denied a new trial on charges he aided in the 1978 murder of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan, which triggered the mass murder-suicide of the religious cult in a South American jungle. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Peckham on Wednesday rejected arguments by Layton's new lawyer that Layton was denied effective legal assistance because his trial lawyers failed to learn he faced a mandatory life sentence if convicted and decided not to put on an insanity defense. Layton's trial lawyers showed "competence, conscientiousness and dedication," said Peckham, who presided over Layton's first trial, which ended in a hung jury in 1981, and his second trial that ended in a conviction last December. " ... Layton could not have asked for better legal representation." Layton, 41, the only former temple member tried in the United States, was convicted of conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the murder of Ryan, D-Calif., and the attempted murder of U.S. diplomat Richard Dwyer on an airstrip in Guyana in November 1978. Ryan and four others were shot to death by gunmen from the temple's nearby jungle headquarters, and Dwyer and 10 others were wounded. Layton, who had gone to the airstrip posing as a defector from the temple, shot and wounded two genuine defectors who were trying to leave the country with Ryan's party in a separate airplane. Hours later, the Rev. Jim Jones and 912 followers died by poison and gunfire in a murder-suicide ritual at the agricultural compound called Jonestown, where Ryan had completed a fact-finding visit the previous day. The judge said the decision not to present a psychiatric defense was "a deliberate tactical choice made after extensive discussion among the attorneys and with the agreement of Layton himself." Even had he known he faced a mandatory life sentence, Peckham said, Layton would not have insisted on testifying or putting on an insanity defense. Layton's new lawyer, Robert Bryan, has appealed the convictions and said he would also appeal Peckham's ruling. Layton is free on bail during the appeal. At both trials, Layton's lawyers presented no evidence and called no witnesses, choosing instead to argue that the prosecution had failed to prove that Layton was part of a conspiracy with Jones to kill Ryan so that the congressman could not report on conditions in Jonestown. Peckham sentenced Layton to life, as required by law, but ordered him considered for parole in five years, half the usual time. The judge said Layton had not been a major member of the conspiracy. In seeking a new trial, Bryan said Layton had been denied effective legal assistance for two reasons: his lawyers had failed to learn during the trial that the charge of aiding in a congressman's murder carried a mandatory life sentence, and they decided not to present a defense based on his mental state, even though several psychiatrists had concluded that Layton had been insane at the time. Had he known of the sentence he faced, Layton testified after the trial, he would have insisted on putting on a defense and testifying at the trial, desspite his reluctance to reveal a number of his disclosures to psychiatrists that included statements about his sexual relationship with Jones. But Peckham said Wednesday he found Layton's post-trial assertions "not believable." Last page !


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