Weston's Parents Win Delay in Testimony
By Anne Gearan
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, August 13, 1998; 12:05 p.m. EDT WASHINGTON (AP) -- The parents of the man charged in the shooting deaths of two Capitol police officers won a delay in their testimony to a grand jury that could indict their son, their lawyers said today.
Lawyers for Russell Weston Jr.'s mother and father challenged surprise subpoenas issued this week, as the family met for the first time with their hospitalized son. Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson held a closed-door hearing on the matter today.
Afterward, lawyers for the Valmeyer, Ill., family said the substance of the two-hour hearing is secret, but that the family would not be forced to go before one of three grand juries sitting in the courthouse today.
``They're relieved that they're going back home,'' said Steven Tabackman, lawyer for Weston's mother, Arbah Jo Weston.
Tabackman and a lawyer for Weston's father said they cannot comment on whether the family has a date set to return to Washington, but both men said their clients expect to testify at some point.
``They will appear before the grand jury when they are ordered to do so,'' Tabackman said.
Federal prosecutors would not comment after the hearing, called after the Westons protested that they need more time to prepare for a grand jury appearance.
Russell Weston Sr., Mrs. Weston, and Weston's sister and brother-in-law were all under subpoena. They left the courthouse today without commenting.
Federal prosecutors issued the subpoenas Tuesday outside the locked hospital ward where Weston, 41, is recovering from gunshot wounds sustained in the July 24 attack inside the Capitol, said Henry Asbill, lawyer for Weston's father.
``No parent wants to testify in a matter pertaining to their son,'' Asbill said Wednesday.
Nevertheless, the Westons will cooperate and do not object to testifying later, Asbill said. The family was startled by the timing of the subpoenas and by the decision to serve them practically at Weston's bedside, Asbill said.
``I have a problem with the insensitivity,'' he told reporters outside D.C. General Hospital, where Weston has been shackled to a bed and under heavy police guard since shortly after a gunman cut down officer Jacob Chestnut and detective John Gibson in a busy hallway of the Capitol.
The parents and Weston's sister and brother-in-law had their second of two scheduled visits with Weston on Wednesday.
``Basically we told him that we love him and that he has our support,'' Weston's father said after that meeting.
Weston also met with his family for two hours Tuesday -- their first contact with Weston since he left the family home a day before the shootings.
Prosecutors allege Weston took two guns with him from Illinois, including the .38-caliber handgun allegedly used in the shootings.
Weston has been held without bond pending a court appearance scheduled Aug. 19. He has not entered a plea to a charge of murdering federal officers, which could carry the death penalty if he is convicted.
Weston's parents have said he is a paranoid schizophrenic with a deep distrust of the federal government. Prosecutors have offered no possible motive for the shootings.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press