-Caveat Lector-

August 9, 1999

Fate of 'train deaths' case rests with jury

Key witness skips without giving testimony in defamation trial

By Sarah Foster
© 1999 WorldNetDaily.com

A federal jury in Little Rock, Ark., is deliberating whether
filmmaker Pat Matrisciana defamed two law enforcement officers in
a documentary dealing with the still-unsolved murders of two
teen-age boys in 1987.

Pulaski County sheriff deputies Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane are
suing the Hemet, Calif., documentary producer for $16 million for
linking them with the crime in his 60-minute video, "Obstruction
of Justice: the Mena Connection."

The officers assert that Matrisciana, who produced "The Clinton
Chronicles," made "Obstruction of Justice" primarily for
financial gain, hoping to exploit the "right-wing conspiracy
theories about President Clinton" who was running for
re-election.

The video contends that some time after midnight on Aug. 23,
1987, Kevin Ives, 17, and Don Henry, 16, stumbled onto a major
drug drop in the countryside west of Little Rock, not far from
their home, and were bludgeoned and stabbed to death by parties
well-connected with Arkansas' political power structure. Their
bodies were placed on the tracks where a train was certain to run
over them, in order to make the deaths appear accidental. Despite
six investigations, including two grand juries, no arrests have
been made and the murderers of Ives and Henry remain at large and
officially unknown.

The film alleges a connection between the murders and subsequent
cover-up by corrupt law enforcement officers, drug traffickers
and people associated with then-Gov. Bill Clinton.

Near the end, the film states orally and in writing that
eyewitnesses had implicated several law enforcement officers as
participants in the deaths and subsequent cover-up, and named
deputy sheriffs Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane among them. At the
time the two deputies worked as Pulaski County sheriff's office
narcotics detectives; they are now sheriff's office lieutenants.

The script states, "Eyewitnesses have implicated Jay Campbell and
Kirk Lane in the murders and subsequent cover-up."

Campbell and Lane deny having anything to do with the homicides,
and in 1997 sued Matrisciana for libel. Also named in the
multimillion dollar lawsuit are the filmmaker's production
company, Jeremiah Films, and Citizens for Honest Government, a
non-profit watchdog organization which handles the distribution.

In the weeklong federal trial in Little Rock before a visiting
judge, U.S. District Judge Warren Urbom of Lincoln, Neb.,
Matrisciana focused his defense on his First Amendment right to
freedom of the press and his reliance on those who actually
researched the case, one of whom was an attorney. These were
primarily Kevin's mother, Linda Ives; attorney Jean Duffey, a
former county prosecutor who headed an Arkansas drug task force
in 1990; and John Brown, a former homicide detective who worked
closely with Duffey and Ives on developing the content and script
of the video.

The defense suffered a severe setback when a key witness
disappeared.

Last seen Tuesday at noon -- with a "scared look" in his eyes --
Ronnie Godwin slipped quietly away from the federal courts
building where it was expected he'd testify.

According to Ives and Duffey, Godwin -- whose name was made
public for the first time Tuesday -- told them he had witnessed
the actual kidnapping of Kevin Ives and Don Henry about 2:30
a.m., the night of the murder, from the parking lot of a small
closed market near the railroad tracks where their mutilated
bodies were later found.

It was hoped that Godwin would tell the court what he saw that
night and to name the abductors, whom he privately identified to
Ives and Duffey as Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane.

"But there's really no way to know that he would do that," said
John Wheeler, media contact for the defense. "He might have said
that -- but he was frightened and might just as well have refused
to say anything even under oath."

Linda Ives testified Wednesday about the importance of Godwin to
the case.

Ives, who has spent years researching the case in an effort to
bring the killers of her son to justice, is convinced Campbell
and Lane are the "hands on killers of my son," based in part on
what Godwin has told her.

Ives told the court she learned about Godwin from a State Police
report she had obtained early in the case through the Freedom of
Information Act. Godwin, who had been picked up on a DUI charge,
told police he had seen two teen-age boys at the pay phone
outside the closed grocery store where they had presumably run to
call for help after witnessing the drug drop. He said he saw two
men, who he believed to be undercover officers in plain clothes
driving an unmarked police car, pull up, wrestle one of the boys
to the ground -- and eventually throw them both in the back of
the patrol car where another officer waited, and drive away with
them.

Godwin gave a description of the men to the police that fits the
description of Campbell and Lane -- long hair, over 6 feet tall,
200 or so pounds -- but as Campbell and Lane point out, that fits
a number of people, including others within the sheriff's
department. Godwin never identified the men by name, at least not
to the police.

Linda Ives and Jean Duffey claim he told them privately that he
knew them to be Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane.

Which was why Matrisciana and his attorney John Wesley Hall were
surprised to learn Godwin had been subpoenaed by the plaintiffs
and his name was on their list of witnesses scheduled to give
testimony -- particularly when he had told the defense he did not
want to testify for anyone under any circumstances.

Turns out he wouldn't have to. In hindsight the plaintiffs'
subpoena of Godwin is viewed as being a very clever ploy.

Since she was a witness for the defense, Ives was not allowed in
the courtroom before presenting testimony, and spent Monday and
Tuesday morning with Godwin in the witness waiting room. Before
breaking for lunch Tuesday, Godwin was called before the judge,
only to be released from the subpoena by the plaintiffs without
the defense attorney and Matrisciana -- who had both left the
courtroom -- being apprised of it.

"I'm out-a-here," he told Ives who saw him in the hallway running
towards the exit. "They've released me from the subpoena."

Ives says she begged him to stay and testify -- that they were
all counting on him, but he reportedly refused and said he would
not answer "that question."

Hall said Godwin had been followed after leaving the courthouse
Monday and was afraid to testify.

When Hall discovered Godwin had skipped, he requested the
issuance of a subpoena, which Judge Urbom granted.

It was too late. A private detective hired by the defense
testified Thursday he had not located the reluctant witness and
believed he might have left the state.

The quick disappearance was considered by the defense as a blow
to the case, and an admitted "tactical error on our part,"
according to Matrisciana, who regrets not having subpoenaed him
for the defense to assure him being on their witness list as well
as on that of the plaintiffs.

The jury was not allowed to hear testimony from Ives about the
conversation she had with Godwin Tuesday,

However, Godwin was not the only source of the "Campbell-Lane
scenario."

Ives says she first learned about the alleged involvement of the
pair from Dan Harmon, who in 1988 headed a county grand jury
investigation into the deaths. The grand jury ruled the deaths
were due to foul play, not accidental as Arkansas medical
examiner Fahmy Malek, a Clinton crony, had previously ruled.

Harmon is presently serving an 11-year federal sentence for
racketeering, conspiracy and drug charges.

Campbell and Lane testified they were investigating Harmon and
that he spread rumors about their alleged involvement in the
deaths in an effort to save himself. The deputies said Harmon
took advantage of the general description given in Godwin's
police report, and subpoenaed them to appear before the 1988
grand jury -- but first spread the rumor that "the killers" were
about to testify.

Ives and Duffey testified that they became suspicious of Harmon,
and emphasized the scenario was corroborated by private
investigator John Brown, a Saline County detective at the time of
the killings. Brown participated in the production of the film,
but denies ever singling out Campbell and Lane for involvement in
the crime. In fact he now says he "warned" Matrisciana not to
name the deputies in the video.

Under oath Brown testified he had not personally investigated the
involvement of deputies Campbell and Lane in the murders because
that phase of the operation was supposed to be handled by the
FBI. However, Brown did describe the Campbell-Lane scenario,
which he said was commonly known to several law enforcement
agencies.

David Minasian -- who edited the video -- contradicted the
veracity of Brown's testimony. Minasian swore that John Brown had
told him, Duffey and Ives that he believed Jay Campbell and Kirk
Lane were the actual killers. Minasian said that Brown, Ives and
Duffey had control over the final version of the film and that
all three had approved the final cut with its statement about
Campbell and Ives. Minasian presented handwritten notes -- made
at the time -- of conversations he had had with Brown as they
were completing the film with those statements in them. There was
no evidence of Brown having raised any objection, and Brown even
bought 300 copies of the video.

Reached for comment, Matrisicana told WorldNetDaily that the last
thing the jury saw, before the plaintiff's attorney delivered his
summary was video footage taken in 1994 showing John Brown saying
that Jay Campbell and Kirk Lane were murder suspects.

"He said it right on camera," said Matrisciana. "And then we
rested our case."

In his instructions Judge Urbom told the jury that "In order to
win the suit the jury must be convinced that the statements in
the video -- that the deputies were implicated by eyewitnesses --
was false and that Matrisciana acted with reckless disregard for
the truth when he allowed the video to be distributed.

"To meet the legal standard for reckless disregard, Matrisiciana,
or Ives and Duffey acting in his behalf, would have to have had
serious doubts about the truth of the statement," said Judge
Urbom.

For information and updates on the case, Linda Ives and Jean
Duffey have a "Train Deaths" website.



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   The Best Way To Destroy Enemies Is To Change Them To Friends
       Shalom, A Salaam Aleikum, and to all, A Good Day.
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