Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Miami Herald, August 7, 1976, "Bomb Trial: No Witness for Defense" by Joe Crankshaw.

The trial of three men charged with the May 6 attempted bombing of a Little Havana bookstore came to an abrupt end at 1:45 p.m. Friday when state prosecutors announced that they had completed their case.

Assistant Public Defender Mel Black, defending Antonio Rafael de la Cova, and attorney Nathan Kurtz, representing Blas Jesus Corbo, asked Dade Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios for a directed verdict of acquittal on several technical grounds.

Black and Kurtz then announced that they would put up no further defense and offer no witnesses because the state had not provided them with all the available evidence prior to the start of the trial last Monday.

Judge Morphonios then instructed the attorneys for state and defense to prepare their final arguments for delivery to the jury and the charges, which she would read to the jury before it retires to reach a verdict.

Earlier Friday, an FBI informant swore that de la Cova planned the bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore on May 6 "to keep the town hot."

But Miguel Angel Peraza, 36, father of four, said that de la Cova did not define what "hot" meant.

Peraza, who has been identified by FBI agents as a confidential informant for them, was the main witness in the trial of de la Cova and Corbo, who are charged with attempting to bomb the bookstore, arson, possession of unregistered explosives, transportation of unregistered explosives and possession of an unregistered firearm.

A third defendant in the case, Gary E. Latham, pleaded no contest, was adjudged guilty and faces 35 years in prison on the same charges.

Peraza, a heavy-set, small man with neatly combed hair, maintained a calm composure during more than two hours of questioning by Assistant State Attorney George Yoss, Assistant State Public Defender Mel Black and attorney Nathan Kurtz.

Peraza told the jury that he suggested an April demonstration against Libros Para Adultos, 3458 SW Eight St., an adult bookstore.

Peraza said he and Jim Garland, whom Peraza described as a "so-so anti-Communist," arranged for the demonstration and brought him de la Cova.

The informant also told the jury that that attempt on the bookstore with a bomb first was discussed at his home at 11:30 p.m. May 4. He said de la Cova came to the house, told him of the plan and showed him the bookstore.

Peraza said he informed the FBI the next morning and was told not to touch any evidence that might be handled by Corbo, de la Cova or Latham and to "be careful of myself."

Peraza recounted how he rode with de la Cova to Latham's Boca Raton apartment to watch the manufacture of the bomb by de la Cova, went to Florida Atlantic University and watched de la Cova and Latham prepare proclamations claiming credit for the bombing and went south to pick up Corbo in Miami Beach.

Peraza said that no one spoke to Corbo of the bombing incident until he got into the car.

Asked if Corbo protested the plan, Peraza said the only objection that the defendant made was that the bomb was too small.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald