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Yahweh Ben Yahweh Trial: 1992

Arrest And Indictment

Bobby Rozier, a former football player with the University of California Golden Bears and with the St. Louis Cardinals, had joined the cult and changed his name to Neariah Israel. He later dropped out and agreed to help the FBI work on building a case against Yahweh. Yahweh excommunicated Rozier from the cult. Rozier became the chief prosecution witness as the federal government built a conspiracy and murder case against the cult, its leader, and several of its members. After developing testimony, the FBI conducted a raid on the head-quarters, November 7, 1990, in "Operation Jericho." The FBI coordinated raids on a travelling Yahweh group staying in a hotel in New Orleans, where Yahweh Ben Yahweh himself was arrested. Following the arrest and raid on Liberty City, the FBI questioned former and current cult members, gathered depositions, and sought physical evidence. The indictment included the firebombing in Delray Beach, the extortion and threats against the tenants in Opa-locka, two attempted homicides, and 14 specific murders. A later grand jury finding added an additional murder charge.

Although many witnesses were afraid to testify, several defectors from the cult appeared as witnesses. The trial was complicated by the fact that in addition to Yahweh himself, 15 other members of the cult were charged with conspiracy, extortion, and murder. The mass of evidence, the multiple charges, the lengthy proceedings, conflicting testimony, outbursts during the trial, and intense local media coverage exhausted and confused the jury. Among other defenses offered by Yahweh's attorney was the claim that he had not intended his sermons (protected as religious speech) regarding "smiting the enemy" to be taken literally, and that if followers had done so, he had no knowledge of their actions. Testimony by Rozier and others, however, indicated that he had specifically urged his followers to kill defectors and random whites.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Yahweh Ben Yahweh Trial: 1992 - A Criminal Or A Role Model?, Arrest And Indictment, Jury Deadlocks On Several Charges