Trial of alleged synagogue bombers delayed

The Associated Press
Saturday June 09, 2001

SACRAMENTO — A federal judge has postponed the trial of a man accused of firebombing three Sacramento synagogues until October. 

U.S. District Judge Garland Burrell Jr. ruled Friday that the trial of James Tyler Williams, 31, should be delayed after his lawyers said they needed time to analyze FBI tests of a pair of coveralls prosecutors claim links Williams to the crimes. 

Burrell did rule, however, that jury selection will begin as scheduled July 17. 

Williams and his brother, 33-year-old Benjamin Matthew Williams, are accused of torching Congregation B’nai Israel, Kenesset Israel Torah Center and Congregation Beth Shalom in June, 1999.  

They are also charged with the shooting deaths of two gay men in Happy Valley. 

They have been held in a Shasta County jail since their arrests July 7, 1999 in connection with the murders. 

Burrell delayed the trial owing to a pair of coveralls found during a July 1999 search of Williams’ parents’ home near Redding. 

The coveralls allegedly contained fragments of glass similar to glass found at one or more of the crime scenes. 

The FBI examined the clothing last August. Prosecutors presented the findings to defense lawyers Thursday. 

Williams’ lawyers told Burrell on Friday that the case against Williams is “circumstantial,” so any scientific evidence linking him to the arsons is “critical.”  

They said it will take two to three months to analyze the FBI test results and prepare to deal with this evidence at trial.