U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Greene, acting over the federal government's strong objections, has ordered both prosecution and defense to exchange information about witnesses in the Navajo tribal officer slayings.
In a hearing Monday afternoon, Greene granted the motion by defense lawyer Ed Brass seeking to have more detailed information about witnesses by June 27. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Stewart Walz told Greene the government is not required to give the information that long before the July 11 trial."The court could do it," Walz said before the order was issued. "I think it would be an illegal order, and we'd resist it if we could."
But Brass and other defense lawyers said they needed the information before the July 1 date by which the government said it would give it to the other side. Some information has already been given, however.
Walz said information the government did not want to give before July 1 included a list of "who was at the bonfire," where defendants allegedly were drinking beer and where the officers were killed.
After Greene granted the defense motion, Walz asked him to order that defense lawyers share their witness information with the government by the same date too, and Greene agreed.
Thomas Cly, Vinton Bedonie, Ben Atene Jr. and Marques Atene are charged with killing Navajo tribal officers Roy Lee Stanley and Andy Begay on the reservation on Dec. 5, 1987. The indictment says the four defendants fought with the officers. Stanley and Begay were shot, then put in a truck that was driven to Copper Canyon and set on fire.