THREE AGREE TO PLEA in '69 race riot killing, will testify against mayor, other defendants - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

THREE AGREE TO PLEA in '69 race riot killing, will testify against mayor, other defendants

Updated:
YORK, Pa. (AP) - Three of nine men charged in the death of a black woman during a 1969 race riot agreed Monday to testify for the prosecution, including a man who claims Mayor Charlie Robertson told whites to kill blacks.

Rick Knouse, Clarence Lutzinger and Gregory Neff all waived their right to a hearing as Common Pleas Judge Emanuel A. Cassimatis prepared to hold preliminary hearings for the defendants. The hearings for the remaining six defendants were continuing.

Knouse agreed to testify for the prosecution in a deal in which he would plead guilty to criminal conspiracy and face a maximum sentence of 23 1/2 months. Knouse told a grand jury that Robertson gave him ammunition for his hunting rifle and instructed him to ``kill as many niggers as you can.''

Lutzinger, who is serving time at the state prison in Camp Hill for an unrelated conviction, and Neff made similar agreements.

Robertson, who was a police officer at the time of the shooting, is accused of providing bullets to white gang members who allegedly shot 27-year-old Lillie Belle Allen of Aiken, S.C., on July 21, 1969.

Prosecutors said Allen was not shot with the type of ammunition Robertson allegedly handed out. But they say witnesses have testified that they heard Robertson urging whites to kill blacks.

Robertson, 67, has acknowledged yelling ``white power!'' at a rally in a city park the night before Allen was killed, but has denied giving out ammunition or urging whites to kill blacks. The two-term Democratic mayor, who has said he no longer harbors racist feelings, abandoned his re-election campaign after he was arrested in May.

Some of Allen's relatives were seated near the back of the room as the hearing opened.

``We're going to challenge the quality of their evidence, we're going to challenge the quantity of their evidence,'' said Robertson's lawyer, William Costopoulos.

The riots - which also claimed the life of a white police officer, Henry Schaad - began after a white gang member shot and injured a black man. More than 60 people were injured and 100 arrested before the National Guard was called in.

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