Justice has finally prevailed for one of the oldest and shadiest cases the justice system had to offer. California state prosecutors elected to drop their case against four of seven men accused in the grisly murder of a San Francisco officer of the peace nearly forty years ago. Henry Jones, 73, Ray Boudreaux, 66, Richard Brown, 68, and Harold Taylor, 60, were allegedly involved in the infamous Black Liberation Army, an extremist offshoot of the Black Panther Party, alleged to have robbed banks, bombed a police funeral, and waged a vicious war against those of societal authority in a ruthless, vicious, five-year campaign that spanned from coast to coast.
The men were named in the murder of Sergeant John V. Young during an attack on San Francisco’s Ingleside police station during the summer of 1971. “Certainly, the state’s decision was unexpected,” said Jones’ defense attorney, John Philipsborn. He added, “Our hope all along, especially for the four whose cases were dismissed, was that there was not enough evidence to pursue cases against them.”
This case was peculiar as it could never seem to be fully resolved. That mattered little as California resurrected the case in two years ago, filing charges against eight men whom were alleged members of the organization. One of the eight men, Anthony Bottom, pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter after a pre-trial hearing. He was sentenced to a year of jail time and three years of probation; the jail time was waived as he already served the same amount of time while awaiting trial.
Prosecutors were victorious in securing a sentence of five years probation for 61-year old Herman Bell, the alleged gunman in the Young murder, after he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Both men are currently serving life sentences for the murder of two New York police officers before the Young homicide.
All members of the B.L.A. involved in the Young murder have had to come face to face with a judge except for one. 60-Year old Francisco Torres stands as the only member of the group to abstain from a court appearance, a reality that is quickly about to change. California state prosecutors believe that they have a fingerprint of Torres on an abandoned cigarette lighter that was jettisoned at the scene of the crime.
Torres’ attorney, Charles Bourdon, said Monday that his client “steadfastly maintains his innocence.” They have chosen to reject a plea deal with Bourdon planning to file a motion to dismiss the charges outright. Torres is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 10 to set a preliminary hearing date.