Hijacker of Cuban plane convicted (MH)

Stuart Lawrence stuartwl at walrus.com
Thu Jul 10 17:06:56 MDT 2003

> Thursday's verdict followed a decision earlier in the day by
> Highsmith to bar Wilson from testifying that he changed his
> mind about the hijacking in Havana but was afraid to
> surrender for fear of being killed. Highsmith also warned
> that if Wilson violated that edict, he would observe the
> rest of the trial "on a monitor in a room upstairs."
> Wilson addressed Highsmith but not jurors, saying the
> judge's prohibition would leave him with little to say and
> so he would not take the stand. Wilson had been
> scheduled as the defense's only witness.
> "I would not be able to testify freely," Wilson told
> Highsmith in Spanish through a translator. "I think I would
> be left without any opportunity to give testimony about this
> case."

I'm somewhat surprised by this ruling. I presume it was made under Rule
403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which states that "Although
relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is
substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of
the issues, or misleading the jury...." I don't know enough to say if
the judge's decision was questionable, but it sounds like it will
certainly provide Wilson with a basis for his inevitable appeal.

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