A federal marshal contradicted his colleagues' testimony Wednesday when he told a jury about shots he heard from a north Idaho gunfight that killed two people last Aug. 21.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Frank Norris was called as a prosecution witness in the murder and conspiracy trial of white separatists Randy Weaver and Kevin Harris. But his testimony bolstered the defense's contention that Harris shot Inspector William Degan of the Marshals Service only after another marshal fired the first shot.However, Norris' testimony conflicted with that of another marshal, Inspector Joe Thomas, who preceded Norris to the witness stand.
Thomas, who like Norris was several hundred yards away when the shootout occurred, recalled hearing a different pattern of gunshots - a pattern consistent with the government's theory of the case.
The net effect of the two witnesses' crucial recollections could be to boost defense attempts to raise a reasonable doubt about whether Harris, 25, began the shootout, killing Degan in cold blood, or responded in self-defense to gunfire from the marshals.
The government charges that the first shot came from Harris' .30-06 hunting rifle and fatally wounded Degan, 42, after Harris and Weaver's son Sammy accosted three marshals who were spying on the Weavers' remote mountaintop cabin.
Sammy, 14, also was killed in the gunfight. A day later, an FBI sniper shot to death Weaver's wife, Vicki, 43, and wounded Randy Weaver and Harris.