Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones would become so enraged when a follower asked to see a family member or visit the United States that he would impose such punishment as beatings and threats with guns and snakes, a defector testified yesterday.
Dale Parks, who escaped from the cult's jungle colony with the members of Rep. Leo Ryan's investigative group who survived an airport ambush, told the jury in the conspiracy trial of temple aide Larry Layton that he was never subjected to the torture but saw others suffer physical indignations.
Layton, 35, is on trial in San Francisco U.S. District Court on charges of conspiring with other temple members to murder California Democrat Ryan to keep conditions at Jonestown from becoming public.
Parks, a 30-year-old respiratory therapist, said sometimes 15 men would beat a recalcitrant cultist so badly he would have to be hospitalized in the primitive jungle clinic.
There, other temple members would taunt him with guns and wrap hissing snakes around his head. The physical abuse would be followed by duty on a "learning crew," consisting of hard work in the hot sun with constant abuse from a supervisor.
Defense attorney Tony Tamburello has called several temple defectors to the stand, asking them to recount their version of the horrors of life at Jonestown in an apparent attempt to lay the groundwork for showing the pressure under which Layton attempted to kill two defectors during the waning hours of the cult's existence.