APoh 08/13 1606 Drescher Hearing By RAY FORMANEK Jr. Associated Press Writer MOUNDSVILLE,

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APoh 08/13 1606 Drescher Hearing By RAY FORMANEK Jr. Associated Press Writer MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) -- A Marshall County circuit judge on Thursday ordered Hare Krishna devotee Thomas Drescher extradited to California to stand trial in the 1986 death of a Krishna dissident. Judge Steven Narick agreed to delay Drescher's extradition until Sept. 4 to give his attorney time to file an appeal. "I'm disappointed, but I will file an appeal with the (state) Supreme Court right away," said Mark Karl, Drescher's attorney. Drescher, 37, of Ravenna, Ohio, has been charged with one count of murder in the May 22, 1986, shooting death of Krishna dissident Steve Bryant. Bryant was gunned down as he sat in a van on an east Los Angeles street. Drescher, whom prosecutors describe as a fringe member of the Krishna community of New Vrindaban, is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole at the West Virginia Penitentiary for an unrelated murder. During the 2 1/2-hour hearing Thursday, Drescher -- handcuffed to a belly chain and wearing leg irons -- appeared relaxed. He fingered 108 prayer beads inside a saffron-colored prayer bag and joked occasionally with his guard. Marshall County Prosecutor Tom White called Los Angeles police Detective Leroy Orozco to the stand, where Orozco presented the court with a signed statement from a Los Angeles rental car operator who placed Drescher in that city the day of Bryant's death. In the affidavit, Gabriel Alon said Drescher returned a rental car to his firm on May 22, 1986. Alon also said he identified the Krishna devotee by picking his picture out of six others presented by investigators. Alon said he could not travel to West Virginia for the hearing because his business would suffer. Karl questioned the validity of Alon's statement and said there was no proof that the rental car operator was trustworthy. He stresed that the affidavit dated was Aug. 4, 1987 -- 15 months after Bryant was slain. "It's incredible, from my point of view, that this man would remember an event -- the rental of a car -- 15 months after its occurence," Karl said. In addition, three residents of New Vrindaban testified that Drescher was in Columbus, Ohio, around the time of the slaying. Krishna devotee Alex Georgiadis said he saw Drescher at the Columbus Krishna temple on May 22, 1986. "We exchanged a few words," Georgiadis said. "I was surprised to see him there." "There is certainly enough evidence that Mr. Drescher was not present in California on the date of the murder," Karl argued. He said the affidavit was the only evidence presented that put Drescher in Los Angeles. "It is at most a statement given outside the courtroom -- a declaration, an unsworn statement," Karl said. However, White countered that the statement had been given by Alon in the presence of a police officer and under threat of perjury. After the hearing, Drescher said he was not surprised by the outcome. "It's just being done for appearances," he said. "Their case of religious prosecution will go on no matter how many witnesses we produce." Bryant, who was from Detroit, alleged that Krishna leaders -- especially Kirtanananda Swami Bhaktipada, the leader of New Vrindaban -- strayed from the religion's tenets, condoned violence and broke up Bryant's marriage. He urged the residents of the country's largest Krishna commune to rebel and execute Bhaktipada. Drescher was convicted last year of the 1983 murder of Charles Saint-Denis. The two men had a running feud over land and money, authorities said.


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