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