The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, August 23, 1995, Page 2, Image 2

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    By The
Associated Press
Edited by Jamie Karl
Wednesday, August 23,1995 Page 2
Jury convicts Reynolds in sex abuse cast
CHICAGO—Rep. Mel Reynolds
was convicted Tuesday of having sex
with a former campaign worker while
she was underage, then tryingto thwart
the investigation.
As the verdict was read, the Illinois
Democrat sat expressionless. He re
peatedly mouthed an inaudible phrase
and looked at the jury as the verdict
was read. His wi fe and mother sat next
to each other in the courtroom with
little expression on their faces.
Reynolds testified that he never
had sex with campaign volunteer
Beverly Heard and only fantasized
about it over the phone. The black
congressman said he is the target of a
racially biased, politically motivated
Jurors deliberated more than 14
hours before reaching their verdict.
The most serious charge, criminal
sexual assault, carries a mandatory
minimum penalty of four years in
prison. Reynolds also was convicted
on charges of sexual abuse, child por
nography and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors built their case on
graphic tape-recorded telephone calls
in which Reynolds discusses sex acts
with his teen-age accuser. But the trial
ultimately focused on the conflicting
testimony of Reynolds, 43, a two-term
Democrat, and 19-year-old accuser
Beverly Heard.
After 13 nights in jail for refusing
to testify, Heard emerged to tell the
jury she had a consensual sexual affair
with Reynoldsbeginningin 1992 when
she was 16 and 17. But she said he
doesn’t deserve prison and asked the
jury to find him innocent.
Reynolds testified that he suc
cumbed tohis weakness and had phone
sex with Heard but never had physical
contact with her. He accused Heard of
trying to extort him and said prosecu
tors used “Gestapo tactics” in an out
of-control effort to convict him.
Prosecutor Andrea Zopp denied
that race and politics played a role.
“The defendant sits here today not
because he’s a congressman, not be
cause he’s an African-American, but
because he committed a crime,” she
said in closing arguments.
Heard launched the case in June
1994 by contactingpolice but stunned
prosecutors by recanting within weeks
of telling her story. Prosecutors ac
cused Reynolds of engineering the
about face.
The case was just one of sevei
accusations against Reynolds.
In May he was indicted again <
witness tampering and obstruction
justice for trying to influence witness
in the sex case. It is unclear when 1
might face trial on those charges.
For at least a year, federal author
ties have been investigating possib
mishandling of Reynolds’ persona
campaign and congressional financ
That includes whether he fraudulent!
obtained a mortgage for a new hous
and whether he converted campaig
or office funds to personal use.
Teen arraigned in bridge death;
authorities say victim jumped
DETROIT — A 19-year-old
man pleaded innocent to murder
Tuesday in the death of a woman
who pol i ce sai d j umped offa bri dge
to escape an attack. Investigators
meanwhile backed off their origi
nal story that onlookers cheered the
' assault.
Deletha Word, 33, apparently
was not pushed but leapt off the
Belle Isle bridge on her own, and
some witnesses even said her at
tacker told her not to jump, police
Cmdr. Gerald Stewart said.
“We know for a fact that she was
not pushed over,” Stewart said
Tuesday. “She was probably trying
to escape.”
There is no evidence to support
initial police reports that a crowd
cheered as Word was attacked early
Saturday, Stewart said.
The earlier reports were prob
ably “just an exaggeration of some
of the people out there,” he said.
Wayne County Assistant Pros
ecutor Richard Padzieski also said
the early reports were wrong.
“There’s nothing to indicate
there was a mob cheering on the
attackers,” Padzieski said. “It was
not the mood of the group.”
Stewart said the story may have
stemmed frompeoplehonkingtheir
horns at the backed-up traffic, or
yelling in horror when they saw the
woman jump.
“When you know what really
happened,” he said, “it’s bad, but
not like it’s been portrayed.”
Others contradicted Stewart’s
version. Family members have said
they doubt Word jumped because
she did not know how to swim.
“Everybody’s sugarcoating this,
and I see no reason for it,” Dortha
Word said of her daughter’s death.
And in court, Magistrate Kerry
Leon Jackson read from a report
that quoted a witness as saying the
suspect held Word and said, “I
should throw this bitch over the
Bail for Martell Welch was set
at $250,000 for a charge of second
degree murder, punishable by up to
life in prison. Jackson set a prelimi
nary hearing for Sept. 1.
Welch attended Wayne State
University in Detroit as a freshman
this year and planned to attend East
em Michigan University in the fall
to study architectural design, his
lawyer said.
Word had a 13-year-old daugh
ter and worked at a grocery store
while earning a bachelor’s degree
in marketing.
Witnesses told police that
Word’s car hit Welch’s car and she
drove away, but was blocked on the
bridge by heavy traffic. The island
park near downtown in the Detroit
River is a popular hangout and cruis
ing spot on weekends.
When Welch’s car approached
Word’s, she reversed and hit him
again. Welch got out and attacked
Word’s car with a crowbar, Stewart
said. He said Welch then pulled her
from the car, ripping her clothing as
she resisted, and hit her with his
Stewart said Welch chased
Word, carrying his crowbar, and
she j umped into the river. Her body
was found miles downstream sev
eral hours later.
Two other men who had been
held for questioning were released
late Tuesday.
News... _
in a Minute
Heavy rains hit state
CREIGHTON—Torrential rain sent northeast Nebraska streams out
of their banks Tuesday, swamping roads and storm sewers. In this
town, officials asked people not to flush their toilets until the water went
Storms dumped up to 7 inches of rain around northeast Nebraska on
Monday night and Tuesday. There were several unofficial reports of 9
inches of rain Tuesday south of Creighton, a town of 1,200 about 40
miles northwest ofNorfolk. It usually takes an entire summer for 7 inches
of rain to fall in southern Knox County.
Editor J. Christopher Hain Night News Editors Mitch Sherman
472-1766 Julie Sobczyk
Managing Editor Rainbow Rowell Matt Waite
Assoc. News Editors DeDra Janssen Doug Peters
Brian Sham Art Hirprtnr
Opinion Page Editor Mark Baldridge General Manager Dan Shattil
_ Editor Jamie Karl Production Manager Katherine Policky
Copy Desk Editor Tim Pearson Advertising Manager Amy Stnithers
Sports Editor Jeff Griesch Asst. Advertising Manager Laura Wilson
Arts & Entertainment Publications BoaraChairman Tim Hedegaard
Editor Doug Kouma 436-8962
Photo Director Travis Heying Professional Adviser Don Walton
FAX NUMBER 472-1761
The Daily NebraskanfUSPS 144-080) is published by the UNL Publications Board, Ne
braska Union 34, 1400 R St., Lincoln, NE 68588-0448, Monday through Friday during the
academic year; weekly during summer sessions.
Readers are encouraged to submit story ideas and comments to the Daily Nebraskan by
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Postmaster: SendI address changes to the Daily Nebraskan, Nebraska Union 34,1400 R
St.,Lincoln, NE 68588-0448. Second-class postage paid at Lincoln, NE.
Queen's University
THURSDAY, August 24 7 p.m.
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11/2 miles north of
Cornhusker Highway
on 70th street