APpa 09/04 0452 Drescher Extradition CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A Hare Krishna devotee serv

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APpa 09/04 0452 Drescher Extradition CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A Hare Krishna devotee serving a life sentence for murder says a 60-day delay of his extradition to California to face another murder charge will give him time to prepare a "proper appeal" to the state Supreme Court. "We're very pleased," said Mark Karl, a Moundsville attorney representing Krishna devotee Thomas A. Drescher. "The Supreme Court clerk just called and said they have granted the stay." Details of the high court's order were not immediately available. Karl said Thursday that the high court had notified the lawyers and judge in the case by telephone and would mail the order granting the delay within a few days. The order came one day before Drescher was scheduled to be sent to California to face charges in the death of Krishna dissident Steve Bryant. "It certainly gives us more time to prepare a proper appeal," said Drescher when notified at the state penitentiary of the court's decision. "We deserve it. They shouldn't have been allowed to rush into a case that had obviously been prejudiced." Drescher, 38, of Buffalo, N.Y., had argued that the state failed to prove he was in California. The Krishna devotee also said the state failed to prove that he is the same individual sought by the state of California. Drescher was sentenced to life without hope of parole at the West Virginia Penitentiary for the 1983 murder of Charles Saint-Denis, another Krishna devotee. Prosecutors said Drescher, a fringe member of the Krishnas' New Vrindaban community near Moundsville, had a running feud with Saint-Denis over land and money. Authorities in California are seeking Drescher's extradition on charges that he killed Bryant, a Detroit native who was shot as he sat in his van on an east Los Angeles street on May 22, 1986. Bryant alleged that Krishna leaders -- especially New Vrindaban leader Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada -- strayed from the religion's tenets, condoned violence and broke up Bryant's marriage. He urged the Krishnas to rebel and execute Bhaktipada. A Marshall County Circuit Court judge on Aug. 13 denied Drescher's motion to block the extradition. The court also refused Drescher's request for a 60-day stay of the order so that he could appeal it to the state Supreme Court. Instead, the judge issued a 21-day stay until Sept. 4. Drescher contends he had insufficient time for his lawyers to prepare a full appeal to the state Supreme Court. He asked the high court to overturn the lower court's order on that ground. Drescher said the only evidence that he was in Los Angeles on the day of the murder was a statement by a car rental agent that he had rented an automobile to Drescher at the Los Angeles International Airport on May 20. "The statement, not a deposition, not an affidavit, not under oath, was obtained by the Los Angeles police on Aug. 4, 1987, 15 months after the homicide," Drescher's petition said. The petition also claimed he had "four eye witnesses, live testimony, that on May 20, 21, (and) 22, 1986, (Thomas Drescher) was present in Columbus, Ohio, at the campus of Ohio State Univeity attending a religious festival." "There was no evidence or testimony to refute or rebut (Drescher's) evidence that he was in Ohio on the date of the Los Angeles homicide for which he stands accused, other than the statement of the car rental agent who was not present at the hearing or subject to cross-examination," the petition said.


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