Written by Evelyn A. Williams
June 25, 20005

As a member of Assata's New Jersey trial legal defense team, and her
appeal lawyer, I think a correct statement of the circumstances of New
Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster's death as established by exhibits, trial
testimony and forensic evidence and that conclusively repudiate the
revisionist lies now being advanced by the State of New Jersey as "fact",
need to be repeated.

It is to be remembered that the only surviving eyewitnesses to the NJ
Turnpike shoot-out were (1) Sundiata Acoli, (2) Trooper Harper, (3)
Assata and (4) the driver of a car traveling along the NJ Turnpike at the
time of the incident. Zayd Malik Shakur, a passenger, was killed during
the shootout.

1. Sundiata did not testify at trial, nor did he make any pre-trial

2. Harper's testimony and actions are contained in the following
documents (admitted into evidence)

a. The three official investigative reports prepared by Harper, in
which he wrote that after he stopped the Pontiac, he ordered Sundiata to
the back of the car to show his driver's license to Trooper Foerster who
had arrived at the scene. That Sundiata complied without incident. That
as he looked into the inside door of the Pontiac to check the
registration, Foerster yelled at him and held up an ammunition clip. He stated
that at the same time Assata reached into a red pocketbook, removed a
gun from it and fired at him. That he immediately ran to the rear of his
car and fired at Assata, who had emerged from the car, and was firing
at him from a prostrate position alongside of the Pontiac. And it was at
this point that he shot her. (admitted into evidence)

b. His Grand Jury testimony where he swore under oath to the truth of
the statements he had made in his 3 official reports. (admitted into

*c. Trial transcripts of his testimony at both Sundiata's and Assata's
trials where he admitted, under cross-examination, that he had lied in
all three of his official reports and in his Grand Jury testimony. That
the truth was that Foerster had never shown him an ammunition clip;
that Foerster had not yelled to him; that he had not seen a gun in
Assata's hand while she was seated in the car; that Assata did not shoot him
from the car; and that he had not seen a red pocketbook.*

d. Audio tapes of the official recorded NJ Turnpike radio
communications between all NJ State Trooper cars traveling the Turnpike near the
scene of the shoot-out, dated May 2, 1973, which revealed that two
additional turnpike patrol cars, those driven by Trooper Robert Palenchar and
Trooper Woerner Foerster, had been ordered to aid Harper at the stop
prior to the shoot-out. (admitted into evidence)

e. The verbatim, hand-written record of what transpired inside the NJ
Turnpike Administration Building when Harper entered it at or about 1AM
on May 2, 1973, to report the shoot-out to Sergeant Chester Baginski
who was in charge of maintaining the official record of turnpike
occurrences on that (referred to as the Station Bible). Harper reported that he
had just been involved in a shoot-out after he had stopped a Pontiac
containing three Black people, two men and a woman, that he had been
wounded, and that the Pontiac was proceeding South on the turnpike. He gave
the license plate number, but did not mention that Trooper Foerster had
arrived at the scene. (admitted into evidence)

f. Audio tapes of the investigation conducted by Detective Sgt. First
Class Richard H. Kelly in the Administration Building at 7:37AM that
morning to determine why over an hour elapsed from the time Harper entered
the Administration Building that night and the discovery of Foerster's
body. Statements by each of the troopers present when Harper came into
the Administration Building revealed that Harper had not reported
Foerster's presence at the scene and that no one was aware of the fact that
Foerster lay on the road beside his car in front of the Administration
building for over an hour, when his body was accidentally discovered by
Trooper O'Rourke who had left the Administration building to
investigate the scene of the shoot-out, less than 200 yards away. (admitted into

3. Assata testified that Harper stopped the car without any known
reason, shot her with her arms raised at his demand, and then shot her in
the back as she was turning to avoid his bullets. Almost mortally
wounded, and semi-conscious, she climbed into the backseat of the Pontiac to
avoid further bullets. Sundiata drove the car five miles down the road
and parked it, where she remained until State Troopers dragged her onto
the road.

4. A driver traveling north along the turnpike at the time of the
incident testified at trial that he had seen a State Trooper struggling with
a Black man between a parked white vehicle and a State Trooper car
whose overhead revolving lights lit up the area. He was unable to identify
the Black man, and further stated that he saw no one else on the road
or at the scene. He immediately reported what he had seen to New Jersey
Police Headquarters.

It therefore remained only forensic evidence to help determine the
facts of that night as much as they could be determined. The forensic
evidence examined by both the New Jersey crime laboratory in Trenton, New
Jersey and FBI crime laboratories in Washington, D.C. established the

1. The finger print analyses of every gun and every piece of ammunition
found at the scene showed there were no fingerprints of Assata found on
any of them. (The official analyses were admitted into evidence)

2. Neutron Activation Analysis taken immediately after Assata was taken
to the hospital that night showed there was no gun power residue on her
hands. Effectively refuting the possibility that she had fired a gun.
(The official analyses were admitted into evidence)

3. As a result of the bullet Harper shot under her armpit, while her
arms were raised in, her median nerve was severed, immediately paralyzing
her entire right arm, shattering her clavicle, and lodging in her chest
so close to her heart that an operation to remove it was not feasible.
A neurologist testified to that fact at the trial.

4. A pathologist testified that "There is no conceivable way that the
bullet could have traveled over to the clavicle if her arm was down.
That trajectory is impossible."

5. A surgeon testified that "it was anatomically necessary that both
arms be in the air for Ms. Chesimard to have received the wounds she

The state offered no expert witnesses to refute this medical testimony.

6. Photographs depicting the gunshot entry wound under her armpit and
the entry wound of the bullet Harper shot into her back were admitted
into evidence during the trial.

Therefore, since no evidence existed that proved Assata fired the
bullet that killed Trooper Foerster, why was she found guilty of his murder?
There are several explanations:

The first is that the climate of hatred, prejudice and racism that had
so contaminated the Middlesex County jury pool in 1973 that a change of
venue was ordered, continued to exist in 1977. The unanimous opinion of
the 1973 jury pool was "If she's Black, she's guilty." After three
defense motions for change of venue, Judge Leon Gerofsky granted the
motion, stating, "It was almost impossible to obtain a jury here comprised of
people willing to accept the responsibility of impartiality so that
defendants will be protected from transitory passion and prejudice." The
trial was then moved to Morris County where Assata's trial was severed
from Sundiata's because of her pregnancy.

In 1977 Assata began trial for the second time in this same Middlesex
County, and this time jury nullification was insured: The jurors chosen
to determine Assata's guilt or innocence consisted of five jurors who
were either relatives or close personal friends of state troopers or of
state law enforcement officers.

However, Assata was not convicted of firing the shot that killed
Trooper Foerster. She was convicted as an accomplice to his murder under New
Jersey's "aiding and abetting" statute. Under New Jersey law, if a
person's presence at the scene of a crime can be construed as "aiding and
abetting" the crime, that person can be convicted of the substantive
crime itself. Judge Theodore Appleby charged the jury that they were
permitted to speculate that Assata's "mere presence" at a scene of violence,
with weapons in the vehicle, was sufficient to sustain a conviction of
the murder of Trooper Foerster. She was also convicted of possession of
weapons – none of which could be identified as having been handled by
her and of the attempted murder of Trooper Harper, who had sustained a
flesh wound at the time of the shootout.

Now, 32 years after her conviction, a new, fabricated version of
Foerster's death has emerged:

There is absolutely no evidence to support statements made by Col.
Joseph R. Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, who said
that "It was later determined that Werner Foerster's service weapon was
ripped from his holster as he lay wounded on the pavement, and he was
executed with two shots to the head from his own service weapon."

But his motivation for making those statements is clear:

1. To justify Assata being placed on the domestic terror watch list
along with Osama bin Ladin. He said, "Anyone with a mindset that would
execute a police officer once they were on the ground is dangerous enough
to be considered a domestic terrorism threat." But Assata is the only
person convicted of a single domestic crime who has been classified a
terrorist and put on the terrorism watch list, thereby nullifying the
very definition of "terrorism"

2. To justify the $1 million dollar bounty to be paid from tax payers
money. He said, "The reward money should make Chesimard a much more
attractive quarry for professional bounty hunters."

New Jersey State Assembly Speaker, Albio Sires, a longtime member of
CANF (Cuban American National Foundation, representing Cuban exiles),
said: "If Cuba's citizenry could be informed of the $1 million bounty and
the real story of Chesimard's crimes, there is an increased likelihood
of her being brought to Justice…. We want the Cuban people to know the
real story about Joanne Chesimard and not the deceptive representation
advanced by the Castro regime. We want people to realize that she is
not a hero and she is really a violent criminal who is wanted for killing
a State Trooper and escaping justice."

By falsely asserting that Assata shot Foerster in the head while he lay
helplessly on the ground, killing him "execution style", the US Justice
Department hopes to strip Assata of any of the sympathy and political
support she now receives in the United States and from the citizens of
Cuba. By labeling her a cold-blooded cop killer, the hope is that the
real circumstances of the NJ Turnpike as well as all the years prior to
that event during which time Assata was relentlessly hunted with the
stated purpose of killing her on sight for having committed crimes of
which the government knew she was innocent, will be forgotten.

But even as official lies are now being manufactured to convert Assata
into a terrorist, so that Cuba can be accused of "harboring a
terrorist" and to justify kidnapping her, there are, in fact, two well-known and
admitted, convicted terrorists who are now being given safe harbor in
the United States.

The US government has refused to extradite admitted terrorist, Luis
Posada Carriles, (charged with the shoot down of a Cuban airliner in 1976,
killing 73 civilians and convicted of other terrorist acts including
the Bay of Pigs). The US government has also refused to extradite
Posada's convicted fellow terrorist, Orlando Bosch, who escaped from Venezuela
and came to Miami in 1987 with the assistance of the CANF, Jeb Bush and
his father, the then US Attorney, Gonzalez, who personally approved the
bounty, also approved prisoner torture at Abu Ghreb. Or that the
approval came after New Jersey resident, Michael Chertoff, was named
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Defense.

There are the facts. Let us not forget them. - Evelyn A. Williams