TOPICS > Politics

Unabomber Arraignment in California

June 25, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


CHARLAYNE HUNTER-GAULT: Thank you for joining us. Take us through the steps of the arraignment today, starting with the “not guilty” plea. Did Kaczynski say the words himself?

DAVID JACKSON, Time Magazine: (Sacramento) No. He was silent all day long today, Charlayne. It was pretty short and sweet, this hearing. He entered the courtroom. He strode to the front of the bench. The judge asked him if he understood that he had the right to remain silent, and that anything he said could be used against him. And Mr. Kaczynski nodded his head in response. And he never said a word during the entire short hearing.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: So it was the lawyers who entered the “not guilty?”

MR. JACKSON: Yes. His lawyer then was asked if they had a plea, and the lawyer, Quinn Denver, who’s the federal defender here, said that they plead “not guilty” and that they would like to request a jury trial. And he subsequently also waived Mr. Kaczynski’s right to a speedy trial because of the complexity of the case. And after that, the judge set a status hearing for July 19, and that was pretty much it.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: A status hearing?

MR. JACKSON: A status hearing is when they will come together and look at some of the issues that have been raised. There’s going to be a lot of motions filed in this case, motions for discovery, motions to challenge the evidence, that we’re going to surely see challenges from the defense based on prejudicial pre-trial publicity and possibly a challenge to or a request for a change of venue.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Mm-hmm. And just one more thing on the, on the sort of mood of the court or maybe a couple of things. I mean, how did Kaczynski look? You say he didn’t speak or anything, but did he look relaxed or what?

MR. JACKSON: He looked very business-like. He was very attentive to what was going on. He, he walked up to the judge’s bench. He seemed full of energy, in fact. He–although he didn’t say anything–whenever his attorney spoke, he turned to him to look at him and he turned back to the judge to see the response. He was almost animated or at least as animated as you can get without saying anything.


MR. JACKSON: One other thing I would like to point out is that he had a bandage on his upper right cheek. And we asked his attorney afterwards where that came from, and he said that apparently Mr. Kaczynski fell down while he was being transported by the U.S. marshals.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: From Montana?


MS. HUNTER-GAULT: From the courthouse–from the jail.

MR. JACKSON: This morning from the county jail, where he’s being held, the five blocks to the federal building. And much of the time when he’s being transported, I think, he’s wearing restraints on both his wrists and his ankles. So it’s not difficult to fall down in those circumstances.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Right. Now just tell us briefly about the charges against him, the 10-count indictment in the simplest of terms. I know it gets complicated, but you’ve simplified it before, so try again.

MR. JACKSON: All right. They, they are complicated, but essentially it does boil down, as you said, to two bombings that resulted in fatalities and two bombings that resulted in injuries. And the one thing that ties them altogether is that they either occurred in Sacramento, or the bombs were mailed from Sacramento.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Is that why the trial is being held there, instead of some other place?

MR. JACKSON: That’s right. He’s accused of–and these, these incidents start with the 1985 bombing of a computer store owner here in Sacramento. And in that case, Kaczynski is charged with transporting the bomb across state lines to–with the intent to kill or injure someone and with, umm, the other bombings, which include two mail bombs, one in Tebron, California, north of San Francisco, one in New Haven, both of these occurred in 1993, umm, those resulted in injuries. He’s accused of both transporting the bomb across state lines and then using the U.S. mails to send it. And also he’s charged with, umm, violating a federal crime that involves use of a destructive device in the commission of a violent crime.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: And what does all that add up to in terms of–I’m sorry, were you about to add something to that?

MR. JACKSON: Well, I was going to say the final charge is the, the bomb that was mailed from Oakland to Sacramento in 1995 that killed Gilbert Murray, the timber industry lobbyist.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: Right. And what’s the most definitive evidence against him that, that he is the unabomber?

MR. JACKSON: Well, there have been some evidence–items of evidence that have been leaked, but, in fact, if you just look at the official documents that have been unsealed from court filings by the government, there are some very big challenges for the defense to overcome if, if this evidence is shown to have been legally obtained. We’ve got evidence like bomb-making materials. We’ve got a partially constructed bomb. All this was found in his cabin. A recent document that was unsealed shows that a comparison of the writings of the unabomber were very similar–showed a comparison between the writings of the unabomber and writings that Kaczynski had made.


MR. JACKSON: And finally there is–we’ve just learned from an unsealed document in support of the affidavit–an affidavit in support of the, the search warrant, that the government has found DNA links between saliva found on a unabomber envelope and a Kaczynski letter.

MS. HUNTER-GAULT: All right. Well, we’ll just have to follow this as it goes along. David Jackson, thank you for joining us.

MR. JACKSON: Thank you.