Presumed guiltyHad I not read Sgt. Stacey Koon's book...

the Forum

April 05, 1994

Presumed guilty

Had I not read Sgt. Stacey Koon's book, "Presumed Guilty: The Tragedy of the Rodney King Affair," I would have concurred with Wiley A. Hall's commentary of March 24 ("Convict in King beating tries to cash in on crime").

After all, I had seen the "beating" on TV dozens of times -- or part of it at least, although with no explanations of exactly what I was seeing or of the portions not shown. And of course we were all exposed to a virtual consensus of a "presumed guilty" opinion in the press.

I came across the book at the library and was curious. My initial skepticism turned to total belief by the book's end. I am now convinced of Koon's innocence and troubled by the role played by our news media and "justice" system in this affair.

Am I alone in my conversion? Am I truly naive and gullible? Space does not allow me to repeat his explanations here, but he seems to have written a completely substantiated and rational case for himself and his fellow policemen.

Wiley Hall is "absolutely, positively, convinced" of Koon's guilt and would only see the Koon letter he received as evidence of "nonrepentance, casting about for scapegoats, trying to cash in on his felonious acts." But has he read the Koon book?

I plead for Mr. Hall to separate himself from the sheep herd for a few hours and read it. At the library he needn't even spend $30 to benefit Koon.

After reading the book, would Mr. Hall please give us his evaluation? Would he still be as absolutely and positively convinced? Would he please reveal what part of Koon's story is untrue or biased?

Maybe Mr. Hall can also tell me why this book has never been taken seriously by the media. I have never seen a review, discussion or even a reference to it until his March 24 commentary.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Both ways

As one gets older, perhaps his reasoning powers diminish. If that's true, it might be why I can't understand the signals from Washington.

On one hand, a Democratic administration considers a ban on smoking almost everywhere, indoors and out, and the head of the Food and Drug Administration wants guidance from Congress on whether to label nicotine a narcotic. Even the military is joining the effort.

On the other hand, the president proposes to pay for his health care plan largely with tax increases on cigarettes and other tobacco products, and the health subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee voted to increase cigarette taxes by $1.25 a pack to raise money for health care reform.

It may be time for these people to meet jointly, because if you ban smoking or even enact measures to deter it, fewer dollars will be available for health care. You can't have it both ways.

Chuck Frainie

Woodlawn

Communist plot

If Michael Barrash (letter, March 24) wants to be disgusted with a political party, or if he needs to be disgusted period, I suggest that he be thoroughly disgusted with our federal government. If that government in the future tells anyone the truth about anything, put it down in your diary as a first.

The proposed Clinton health plan is just another socialist or communist takeover plan to take away our right to choose.

This federal government is no longer democratic. If the freedom loving, honest and moral people do not take control away from it, we will be its slaves.

A democratic government is only supposed to handle for us what we cannot do for ourselves -- defense, law enforcement, etc.

Ross Perot said that we have a government that comes at us. I know that it is true.

Robert H. Goebel Sr.

Aberdeen

Presidential travels

With Bill and Hillary traipsing all around this here U.S. of A., spreading the fairy tales about their magnificent health plans, it certainly makes one wonder who is paying the costs of all this travel.

When a president travels, the price of security, flying, among many other things, is considerable.

Besides, if this plan is so good, why is all this hard sell necessary?

H. Robert Wagner

Baltimore

Killer gets second chance, victims don't

It makes me sick to hear of people who cry for a poor criminal who is in jail.

I refer to the story in your Maryland section March 28. The topic of the story was Terrence Johnson and why he should not remain in jail just because he was convicted of killing two Prince George's County police officers in 1978.

It says that Terrence Johnson is 31 years old now but was 15 years old when he committed the crime.

Officer James Swart was just 25 years old and Officer Albert Claggett was just 26.

Johnson has had the opportunity to see his 31st birthday. Officers Claggett and Swart never had that opportunity.

They also never had the opportunity to testify about how they treated Johnson the night they were shot and killed. Johnson took care of that. As the saying goes, don't leave any witnesses.

What we are asked to believe is Terrence Johnson, who just happened to have suspected burglary tools and $29 in change in a sock in the back seat of his car.

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