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Former Black Panther seeks new trial

pratt December 16, 1996
Web posted at: 10:25 p.m. EST

SANTA ANA, California (CNN) -- Former Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt appeared in an Orange County court Monday, seeking a new trial on his 1972 murder conviction. The proceeding is expected to take days.

Pratt has always contended he was in Oakland, California, at the time Carolyn Olsen was shot to death on a Santa Monica tennis court during a multi-million dollar robbery. His then attorney, Johnnie Cochran, claimed his client was framed by the FBI because of his political activities. Cochran is again representing Pratt, along with attorney Stuart Hanlon.

The defense contends that the key witness, former Black Panther Julius Butler, was a paid informant for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. A former D.A. investigator testified Monday that Butler was not an informant.

Several Pratt supporters stood and pumped their fists and cheered when Pratt walked into the packed courtroom. Pratt, wearing a yellow jail jumpsuit, smiled in acknowlegment.

The judge barred cameras from the courtroom.


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