Friday, May 16, 2008

The Miami News, August 4, 1976, "Bombing Trial Defense Keys on Informant" by Hilda Inclan.

At least two of the three men charged with attempting to bomb a Little Havana adult bookstore on May 6 appear to be trying for acquittal by discrediting an FBI informant whose tips led to their arrest.

The trial moves into its third day today with lawyers for all three men - Antonio Rafael de la Cova, Blas Jesus Corbo and Gary Latham - still trying to subpoena the elusive informant, Miguel Angel Peraza.

De la Cova's lawyer, Mel Black - who is basing his client's defense on entrapment by the FBI - blamed Peraza for "fomenting and creating the crime."

After recounting the series of bombings, assassinations and attempted assassinations that have rocked Dade County's Cuban community in the past two years, Black told jurors in his opening statement late yesterday that the defendants were "simple fall guys" of police and the FBI to ease public pressure for arrests.

Black said Peraza had both furnished the dynamite and made the bomb used in the attempted bombing.

Latham, however, in a statement after his arrest, said the explosives were provided by a woman and a black man in the Cuban community. His statement did not mention Peraza, who is white.

It is expected that the leading FBI agent on the case, George Kiszynski, will testify this week and clarify the informant's role in the case.

Attorneys and prosecutors, meanwhile, agreed yesterday on a jury panel of four men and two women after two days of challenges and deliberations. Witnesses for the state were expected to start testifying today.

Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios denied a motion by the defense attorneys to have the trial moved to a different county because of what they claimed has been "excessive pre-trial publicity prejudicial" to their clients.

Assistant State Attorney George Yoss told the newly impaneled jurors that the dynamite found inside the pipe bomb allegedly dropped by de la Cova in front of the bookstore matched that found in the refrigerator of Latham's Fort Lauderdale apartment the day after their arrest.

Yoss said the informant made it possible for police and FBI agents to move in on the three men, preventing "what would have been a terrorist act."

"These three men acted in a clandestine, calculated planned effort to eradicate from the Cuban community an adult bookstore," Yoss said. "They took it upon their own hands to do so with a pipe bomb."

He said evidence would show that Latham signed out a typewriter at Florida Atlantic University - where he was an A-student in physics - the evening of May 5. It was used to write communiques - each to be called "proclamation of resistance" - were to be mailed after the bombing took place, he said.

He said police found numerous items used to make bombs as well as books on how to make them in Latham's apartment.

Nathan Kurtz, the attorney for Corbo, who was arrested with Latham inside a car near the bookstore, claimed that his client was picked up that night by the other two defendants and Peraza.

Corbo, he said, could not have seen the package de la Cova was carrying under his coat allegedly containing the bomb or a concealed .38-caliber gun because de la Cova sat in the front seat while Corbo sat in the rear of the car.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News