Einhorn behind bars in Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- American fugitive Ira Einhorn was processed at a state prison near Philadelphia Friday morning, just hours after he arrived from France to face retrial in the death of his girlfriend more than 20 years ago.
After undergoing medical, physical and psychological tests, Einhorn was to be fingerprinted and processed at Graterford state prison. He will be under a suicide watch with access only to his lawyers and prison staff.
The 61-year-old former anti-war activist was tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in absentia in 1993 for the 1977 beating death of his girlfriend, Helen "Holly" Maddux, whose corpse was found stuffed in a trunk inside a closet of Einhorn's Philadelphia home.
Einhorn can file for a new trial under Pennsylvania law because he was tried in absentia and fled to a country that would not extradite him because of that trial. France would not extradite Einhorn unless Pennsylvania guaranteed his right to a new trial.
If Einhorn chooses not to file for a retrial, the verdict from his last trial will stand.
Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham said at a news conference Friday that she was not sure when an application would be filed.
"It's really up to him to assemble a trial team or lawyers and we're going to wait to see what they're going to do," she said.
Defense Attorney Norris Gelman told reporters Thursday he is unsure whether a new trial would be legal.
"In my opinion, the court cannot constitutionally give him a new trial," Gelman said. "I don't want to be a willing accomplice in the violation of the Constitution ... because that's a violation of the supreme law of our land."
But state Rep. Dennis O'Brien, a Philadelphia Republican, who helped push the retrial legislation through the Pennsylvania state House, disagreed and said the law "meets the constitutional test."
Abraham said prosecutors "will be in very good shape to try this case again."
The 1960s activist arrived in Philadelphia shortly after 4 a.m. Friday on a plane chartered by U.S. marshals. He was accompanied by U.S. law enforcement officials, including a Philadelphia detective, an FBI agent and several U.S. marshals.
Two decades as a fugitive
The extradition by France ended two decades of flight for Einhorn, a former anti-war activist, one-time mayoral candidate and self-described "planetary enzyme."
Though he dressed in a dashiki and dirty jeans, sported a full beard and shoulder-length hair, Einhorn established a successful place as a New Age corporate guru-consultant in the 1970s with a global network of scientists, corporate sponsors and wealthy benefactors.
At his preliminary hearing in April 1979, after Maddux's body was found, the courtroom was packed with professors, lawyers, civic leaders and other prominent Philadelphians who wanted to testify about his good character.
Abraham said she felt "tremendous satisfaction" that Einhorn was back in the United States.
"Until he was put in handcuffs and the safe hands of the Marshalls' Service I wasn't completely convinced that he was coming and I also wasn't convinced until the plane touched down at International Airport that he would ever get here," Abraham said.
Einhorn was released to U.S. authorities after the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, was given sufficient guarantees by Pennsylvania authorities that he would get a new trial and not face the death penalty.
Maddux's sister, Buffy Hall, said she was "delighted" Einhorn was back in the United States. She said the family was frustrated and aggravated at Einhorn's behavior while living as a fugitive in France.
"Watching him smile and mug for the cameras and eat strawberries in his garden, and all that kind of nauseating things," Hall said. "He's been very much rubbing our face in it and thumbing his nose, and feeling very secure that the French would never send him back."
Prosecutors denounce claims of innocence
Einhorn has maintained his innocence, saying the charges stemmed from a government conspiracy against him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.
The Maddux family won a $907 million wrongful death verdict in 1999 against Einhorn that would deny him the ability to profit from his story as a fugitive through a book of movie deal. Einhorn fled the United States in 1981 shortly before his trial. French authorities arrested him in 1997 in southern France.
Hall scoffed at Einhorn's assertions of innocence.
A new trial "will finally put that ludicrous statement of his away for good, and I won't have to listen to that fairy tale anymore," Hall said.
At the Friday news conference, District Attorney Abraham scoffed when asked about bail for Einhorn.
"Let's just say for right now bail seems to be off the table," she said. "If you think I'm gonna spend another 20 years trying to find him? I mean, I'll be in a wheelchair but I'll still be looking."
|Back to the top|