U.S. POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE: MURDER-BY-MAIL TRIAL BEGINS AT TACOMA, WASHINGTON
Cheely and Ryan are charged in indictments returned by an Anchorage Federal Grand Jury with participating in a conspiracy to construct and mail a package bomb which resulted in the death of David Kerr and the severe wounding of his wife, Michelle Kerr. Mr. Kerr was killed at this Chugiak residence located approximately 15 miles north of Anchorage on September 17, 1991 as he opened a package he had received through the mail. The package was addressed to his son, George, who was out of town at the time. The bomb exploded with such violence that Mr. Kerr died instantly. The blast grievously wounded Mrs. Kerr and destroyed the family home.
The government alleges that the mail bomb was intended to kill George Kerr, who, in early 1991, had testified against Raymond Cheely in an Alaska state murder case for which Cheely was later convicted and sentenced to 60 years in state prison.
Presenting the case for the government are Assistant United States Attorney Joseph W. Bottini, Anchorage, and Mark Bonner, Trial Attorney, Terrorism and Violent Crimes Section, Criminal Division, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. The Postal Inspection Service is the lead investigative agency in a task force composed of numerous state and federal law enforcement organizations.
In his opening statement to the jury, Mr. Bottini said the evidence to be presented will outline a complex conspiracy of revenge in which Cheely and Ryan played key roles. Bottini said that the other three members of the conspiracy to kill George Kerr -- Douglas Gustafson, Peggy Gustafson-Barnett, and Craig Gustafson -- have already pled guilty and have been sentenced. Peggy Gustafson-Barnett and Craig Gustafson are expected to testify on behalf of the government during what Mr. Bottini believe will be a six week trial.
Early witnesses for the government included the first person at the scene and the emergency medical technicians who treated Mrs. Kerr. They described the devastation caused by the blast. Later witnesses were postal inspectors who detailed how evidence from the crime scene was recovered and analyzed.
It is expected that over 50 witnesses will testify for the government. These will include postal inspectors, forensic experts, medical personnel, and other state and federal law enforcement officers.
The trial is being heard before the Hon. James M. Burns, Senior District Court Judge, Portland, Ore.
/CONTACT: James D. Bordenet, Postal Inspector, 206-442-6134/
CO: United States Postal Inspection Service ST: Washington, Alaska IN: SU:
KL-RB -- SE020 -- 5159 02/07/95 22:30 EST
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|Date:||Feb 7, 1995|
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