Huey P. Newton Trial: 1968
Two More Trials, Then A Dismissal
Newton was tried again in August 1971. The charge was changed to manslaughter, but the prosecution presented an identical case. A deadlocked jury produced a mistrial.
When Newton was tried a third time in November 1971, the judge ruled that the disputed 1964 conviction should not be included in the indictment. The prosecution's court case was also weaker, despite reappearances by all of the principal witnesses. Officer Heanes, who had maintained that only Newton and McKinney were present during the 1968 incident, now remembered an unknown third man.
Garry also discredited the testimony of Henry Grier, who claimed to have seen the shooting in his bus headlights. Grier's supervisor explained that the bus schedule placed Grier's vehicle well over a mile from the incident. A hung jury delivered a second mistrial. District Attorney Jensen reluctantly dropped the charges against Newton in December 1970.
Newton was freed, but neither he nor the Black Panther Party fared well in the ensuing years. Decimated by police shootings and internal strife, the Panthers membership swiftly declined. In 1978, Newton was convicted of possessing an illegal weapon but acquitted of assault after allegedly pistol-whipping his tailor. Charges that he murdered a prostitute were dismissed in 1979 after two mistrials. His studies in social philosophy earned him a doctorate in 1980, but his problems with alcohol and drugs persisted. In 1989, he pleaded no contest to misappropriating $15,000 from a public grant to a Black Panther Party-operated school.
Huey Newton was shot to death by an Oakland drug dealer on August 22, 1989.
—Thomas C. Smith
Suggestions for Further Reading
Frazier, Thomas R., ed. Afro-American History: Primary Sources. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971.
Garry, Charles R. Minimizing Racism In Jury Trials. Berkeley, Calif.: National Lawyers Guild, 1969.
Hevesi, Dennis. "Huey Newton Symbolized the Rising Black Anger of a Generation." New York Times (August 23, 1989): B7.
Moore, Gilbert. A Special Rage. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.
Newton, Huey P. Revolutionary Suicide. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973.
Wood, Wilbur. "Oversupply of Doubt." The Nation (September 30, 1968): 300-303.
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