09-14-88 Court hears Drescher case By BRIAN FARKAS CHARLESTON, W.Va. (UPI) _ A lawyer repr

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09-14-88 Court hears Drescher case By BRIAN FARKAS CHARLESTON, W.Va. (UPI) _ A lawyer representing Hare Krishna devotee Thomas Drescher asked the West Virginia Supreme Court Wednesday to deny California's request that he be extradited there to face trial in the 1986 murder of a disgruntled ex-Krishna. Drescher is accused of shooting Stephen Bryant in the head with a .45-caliber pistol on May 22, 1986, in Los Angeles. Since California authorities claim Drescher was hired to carry out the murder, he faces the death penalty if convicted. Drescher is currently serving a life sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for the 1983 murder of another Krishna, Charles St.Denis. The extradition case is before the Supreme Court on appeal from a Marshall County Circuit judge's August 1987 order approving Drescher's return to Los Angeles. California officials requested his extradition in June 1987. Moundsville lawyer Mark Karl told the high court the order should be overturned because the judge ignored the testimony of four witnesses who said Drescher was in Ohio when Bryant was murdered. Karl also said the only evidence linking Drescher to California is a sworn statement from the manager of a car rental agency, given 15 months after the shooting. Drescher's signature was on the rental agreement, but Karl said a handwriting expert could not positively say it was Drescher's. In his statement to Los Angeles police, the rental car manager said he rented a car to Drescher on May 20, 1986. Drescher returned the car two days later. The manager refused to travel to West Virginia for Drescher's extradition hearing, saying the trip would cause financial hardship on his business. Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney Tom White said the manager also gave police a copy of the rental agreement, and a credit form listing the names of Drescher's wife, his father and that he was a Krishna employee. Police also obtained a Montana drivers license Drescher used to rent the car. "What more could they have done?" White said of efforts to locate Drescher in California at the time of Bryant's murder. This week, in a letter appearing in The Charleston Gazette, Bryant's parents questioned why it was taking so long to extradite Drescher to California. "The extradition process has become an ordeal that has wound its way to the West Virginia Supreme Court," wrote Jack and Helga Bryant of Royal Oak, Mich. "It has been more than two years since the death of our son and we have seen the tragedy compounded by the West Virginia legal system." The court also heard arguments in a case in which a woman claims she was left paralyzed after receiving an overdose of vitamin K while at the Ohio Valley Medical Center in 1977. Jeanette and John Shia are appealing an Ohio County Circuit Court ruling that dismissed their case against Dr. T.E. Chvasta and the hospital. Mrs. Shia claims the overdose contributed to her suffering a stroke that left her paralyzed. The court is not expected to render a decision in the cases for several weeks.


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