RYMUR Serial 2444
May 20, 1980 • 1313 • Georgetown-State • 2314

[Editor’s notes: The name in this serial who is deleted is FBI Special Agent Donald Hale, whose name appears more than 25 times in RYMUR serials. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.

[This is a cable from the files of the State Department that was included in the FBI’s 2009 RYMUR release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. It was not included in the State Department’s own release, but we have included identifying information for it using the agency’s designations.]

P 201313Z MAY 80
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2521
INFO DIRECTOR FBI WASHDC
GEORGETOWN 2314
BOGOTA FOR LEGATT
FBI WASHDC PASS TO SA [DONALD HALE] FBI SAN FRANCISCO
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAYTON, LAWRENCE [Laurence])
SUBJ: TRIAL OF US CITIZEN LAWRENCE LAYTON FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER
REF: GEORGETOWN 2244

1. On the ninth day of the trial of US citizen Lawrence Layton for the attempted murder of Vernon Gosney and Monica Bagby on November 18, 1978, at the Port Kaituma airstrip, senior defense counsel Rex McKay opened his case by filing two submissions. The first challenged the admissibility of the gun allegedly used by Layton to shoot Bagby and Gosney. McKay claimed the prosecution had failed to establish a “nexus” between the gun and Layton. The second submission asked that the testimony given by Dr. Gobin (refetel) be declared inadmissible since the prosecution had failed, according to McKay, to establish that the Monica Bagby at Port Kaituma had been the same Monica Bagby treated by Gobin. Presenting Judge Lindsey Collins rejected both submissions.

2. Judge Collins offered Layton the opportunity to make a statement prior to McKay’s calling up of chief defense witness Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo. Layton made a lengthy unsworn statement declaring that he was innocent of all charges. The prosecution was not permitted under Guyanese procedures to cross-examine Layton on this unsworn statement.

3. Dr. [Hardat] Sukhdeo, a Guyanese-born US citizen psychiatrist specializing in religious cults, described the methods of mind-control exercised by the cult of the late Jim Jones. He claimed that a combination of drugs, poor diet, lack of sleep, nearly complete physical isolation, and Layton’s “hysterical personality” could have induced a trance-like state in Layton during which he would not be aware of his actions.

4. Under cross-examination from state prosecutor V. Persaud, Sukhdeo admitted that not all of the persons at Jonestown appeared to be “brain-washed”. He further admitted that his knowledge of conditions at Jonestown was based entirely on what survivors have told him as he had no personal experience at Jonestown.

5. The trial will continue on May 20.

Roberts [George B. Roberts, Jr., American ambassador to Guyana]

NNNN*

Originally posted on November 12th, 2020.

Last modified on July 27th, 2022.
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