Were any people prosecuted for their roles in what happened on November 18, 1978?

Most of the people responsible for the events of that day – from Jim Jones; to the shooters at the Port Kaituma airstrip; to the people involved in ordering, stockpiling and mixing the poison; to the parents who administered the poison to their children; to the unknown persons who may have forced reluctant Jonestown residents to take the poison – died along with the others and could not be reached by US and Guyanese justice systems. Instead, both the governments of Guyana and the United States went after two men who survived.

Chuck Beikman was present at some point in the bathroom at the Temple headquarters in Lamaha Gardens when Sharon Amos and her three children died of knife wounds, and he served five years in a Guyana jail following his conviction on charges stemming from those deaths. He eventually returned to his home state of Indiana, where he died in 2001.

Larry Layton, who posed as a defector on November 18 and who shot and wounded two people inside an airplane while Congressman Ryan and four others were gunned down at the Port Kaituma airstrip, was acquitted of all counts of murder by a court in Guyana. He was then extradited to the U.S. for trial on counts of conspiracy to murder a congressman. The first trial ended in a hung jury; a second jury convicted him. After serving a total of 18 years in prison, he was paroled in 2002. In March 2011, the Parole Commission terminated its supervision of Larry, and he is now a free man. He lives in California.

No one was ever charged in connection with the deaths in Jonestown themselves.

Last modified on October 6th, 2013.
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