Duran Convicted Of Trying to Kill President Clinton
WEDNESDAY, APRlL 5 1995
After deliberating nearly five hours, a federal jury convicted a
Colorado man yesterday of trying to assassinate President
Clinton, rejecting his claim that he was insane when he opened
fire on the White House in October.
The jury, whlch began deliberations yesterday morning, also
convicted Francisco Martin Duran, 26, of assaulting four Secret
Service officers, illegally possessing firearms, using those
weapons during a crime of violence and causing $3,400 in damage
to the White House.
Because of the seriousness of Duran's armed assault on the White
House, U.S. Attorney Eric H. Holder Jr. said, prosecutors may ask
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey to go beyond federal
sentencing guidelines--which call for a term of 25 to 30 years on
the charges--and impose the maximum sentence of life in prison
when Duran is sentenced June 29.
"One of the things I hope comes out of this will be a very
strong deterrent effect," Holder said. "We take all crimes
seriously. but especially those directed against the leaders of
Holder called the case an example of cooperation not only among
law enforcement agencies but also with ordinary citizens. He
lauded "the courageous acts" of tourists who tackled Duran on
Oct. 29 as he tried to reload a semiautomatic rifle on
Pennsylvania Avenue NW and of others who captured the incident on
videotape and testified as government witnesses.
The jury's rejection of Duran's insanity defense also was
important, Hoider said. "Very often in society, people try to use
excuses to deflect responsibility." he said. "This jury has sent
a message to people like this that bogus excuses will not he
Holder repeated his concern that several prople had heard Duran
make threats against the president but did not report them to
police. "It's much better to, investigate a number ... of
crackpot allegations ... in the hope that you will get that
one person who is like Mr. Duran." Holder said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric A. Dubelier, who prosecuted the
case With Brenda J. Johnson, told reporters after the verdict
that Duran's insanity defense was "preposterous" and "nonsense."
The two-week trial was a battle of specialists who gave far
different opinions on Duran's mental state.
Mental health specialists for the defense insisted that Duran, a
hotel upholsterer from suburban Colorado Springs, is a paranoid
schizophrenic who had no intention of shooting at the president.
Defense psychiatrists and psychologists said Duran was trying to
destroy a "mist" that was connected by an umbilical cord to an
alien being he encountered in the Colorado mountains. Duran, they
said, believed it was his duty to destroy the mist, which was
controlling the White House, to save the government and the
Public defenders A.J. Kramer and Leigh A. Kenny, who would not
comment on the verdict, argued that Duran never meant to hurt
anyone. They argued that he did not hear two Indiana school boys
say they thought they saw someone on the White House lawn who
looked like Clinton.
But doctors hired by prosecutors said that Duran was faking
mental illness and that he was antisocial and narcisstic. Johnson
said in her closing argument that Duran simply wanted to be
famous. He told his wife and friends to cash in on his fame by
appearing on tabloid television shows and by selling business
cards on which he had written violent, threatening messages.
The prosecution called more than 60 witnesses to show that Duran
had talked often of anarchy and that he hated government in
general and Clinton in particular.
According to testimony, Duran bought an SKS semiautomatic rifle
in Colorado on Sept. 13. That was the day Clinton signed into law
the most recent crime bill, which bans the sale of military-style
weapons such as the SKS.
Duran left Colorado on Sept. 30. When he arrived in the
Washington area on Oct. 10, he moved from hotel to hotel, staying
for a few days at the Washington Hilton, the site of John W.
Hinckley Jr.'s attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan
By Toni Locy
Washington Post staff Writer
Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park