RYMUR Serial 2450
May 21, 1980 • 1932 • Georgetown-State • 2358

[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 211932Z MAY 80
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2540
INFO DIRECTOR FBI ATTN SA [DONALD HALE] FBI SAN FRANCISCO WASHDC
GEORGETOWN 2358
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAYTON, LAWRENCE [Laurence])
SUBJECT: TRIAL OF US CITIZEN LAWRENCE LAYTON FOR ATTEMPTED MURDER

1. On the eleventh day of the trial of US citizen and former People’s Temple member 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 rested his case and addressed the jury.

2. In his three hour summation, McKay claimed that Layton had been charged with attempted murder merely because the state sought to make someone responsible for the Jonestown tragedy which had “besmirched” the name of Guyana all over the world. McKay charged that the prosecution had been incompetent and woefully incomplete in its investigation into the events at the airstrip. The police had, according to McKay, failed to produce any evidence against Layton, so they had kept him without food, water, and legal counsel for nearly five days until he had signed a confession. Only after Layton had signed did the police charge him.

3. McKay claimed that chief prosecution witness US citizen Vernon Gosney was unreliable. Gosney was a self-proclaimed atheist who had refused to swear by “our holy books”. Furthermore, alleged McKay, Gosney could not have received the wounds that he claimed he had from a .38 caliber revolver fired at point blank range. A .38 would have, according to McKay, caused much more grievous wounds.

4. McKay claimed that Layton’s defense had been hampered by the state’s “refusal” to bring from the USA other eyewitnesses such as Dale Parks, Tracy Parks, Monica Bagby, and pilot Tommy Fernandes. In addition, the defense of Layton had been hindered by the cooperation the state had received from “the FBI and CIA”. The FBI, claimed McKay, was only interested in convicting Layton, and the fact that FBI agent [Donald Hale] had left Guyana before the defense presented its case was cited by McKay as evidence of this.

5. In concluding, McKay appealed to the jurors to put Jonestown behind them and not allow Layton to be made the scapegoat for the events of November 18, 1978.

6. The prosecution will address the jury on May 22.

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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