Woman says accused gunman hated blacks
INTERNATIONAL FALLS: A former neighbor testifies that James Waltz said he'd shoot a black person.
ASSOCIATED PRESSRED LAKE FALLS, Minn. - A white man charged with trying to kill a black man had repeatedly proclaimed that he hated black people and that he wanted to shoot one, his former neighbor testified Tuesday.
James Waltz was unhappy that black people were moving into International Falls, and talked "about how much he hated them, how they didn't belong there... that he'd like to shoot one one day," Debra Carr testified.
Waltz, 67, who is white, is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Ricky Davis, 30, who is black, outside an International Falls bar in November 2004. Davis was shot in the stomach but survived.
If the jury convicts Waltz and finds that he targeted Davis because of his race, he could draw a longer sentence.
Under questioning from prosecutor Al Zdrazil, Carr testified that in almost all her encounters with Waltz, he would eventually steer the conversation toward his hatred of black people.
"I never hear him use the words 'African-American' or the word 'black,' " Carr testified.
"Just the N-word?" Zdrazil asked.
"Yes," she answered.
Defense attorney Bruce Biggins told jurors as the trial began Monday that Waltz's use of the "racial epithet" to describe black people didn't make the shooting racially motivated. Biggins contended that Waltz shot Davis accidentally while drunk, with what he thought was an unloaded pistol. And he said Davis caused the accident by bullying Waltz and trying to wrestle his gun away.
Prosecution witness Beth Lindahl, a bartender at the Viking Lounge, testified Tuesday that on the night of the shooting, she overheard Waltz complaining to friends about the presence of Davis and about 10 other black people in the bar.
"He said that (racial epithets) don't belong here and that more of them than usual were there," Lindahl testified.
The bartender said she encountered Waltz behind the bar later, as she emptied the garbage.
"He made a statement that the black people make the white people crazy," Lindahl said. She added that she realized later that the shooting must already have occurred.
The trial is being held in Red Lake Falls because of concerns that Waltz might not get a fair trial in International Falls. Red Lake Falls is about 140 miles southwest of International Falls, which is about 95 percent white. Only 19 of the 6,605 residents counted in the 2000 census were black.