Lawyers argue details in York case
The Telegraph/January 18, 2003
By Rob Peecher
Eatonton -- With just more than a week to go before Nuwaubian
sect leader Malachi York stands trial for sexually abusing 13
children, a Superior Court judge is still considering one issue
key to the prosecution.
The judge said he will rule next week on whether to allow
evidence seized from York's home shortly after his arrest last
York, who was scheduled to be tried with co-defendant Kathy
Johnson, may stand trial alone. Before Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit
Superior Court Judge William A. Prior began hearing final
pre-trial motions Friday, Johnson's attorney Brian Steele
announced his intention to appeal one of Prior's Thursday rulings.
Steele had filed a motion asking the judge to set Johnson free
because, he argued, the prosecution's time to get her to trial
under his speedy trial demand had expired. Prior, though, ruled
that the speedy trial demand gives the prosecution until March 17
to try her.
Steele said he will appeal the ruling to the Georgia Court of
Appeals, which effectively takes Johnson out of Prior's
jurisdiction until the appellate court issues a ruling.
Unless that ruling comes before the trial begins Jan. 28, York
will stand trial alone.
York is the head of the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors, a
predominately black fraternal organization that moved to Putnam
County a decade ago. Last year, federal and local officers raided
the group's 476-acre Putnam County village to serve state and
federal search warrants.
Just before the raid, York was arrested in Milledgeville and
taken into federal custody. He faces four federal counts of
allegedly transporting minors across state lines for the purpose
of having sex with them. He faces 197 counts in a state indictment
accusing him of sexually abusing children. The children are all
former members of his group.
Johnson and three other women were indicted with York on the
state charges - each woman facing significantly fewer charges than
York. Prior agreed last month to sever the other three women as
co-defendants, requiring the state to try them separately, but he
denied a similar motion from Johnson.
As the hearing Friday was nearing an end, York - who wore a red
fez with a black tassle - stood up and repeated a statement he
made Thursday in court that he is "secured" and does not give
permission to use his name.
"If you proceed it will cost you $500,000," York said.
He also said "all deals are off" if Prior continues to use his
Though York's attorney Ed Garland said he had nothing to say
regarding York's statement, York was referring to "common law"
practices the Nuwaubians have used in the past. Common law courts
are not legally binding and are typically associated with
anti-government militias in the Midwest.
During the hearing, Nuwaubians gave members of the media a
"copyright notice" that purports to provide notice that York has
copyrighted his name and aliases and the document threatens
certain financial penalties for "unauthorized" use of his name.
The documents were stamped: "Received, Jan. 08, 2003" by the
"Clerk of Federal Moorish Cherokee Consular Court, USA."
Also Friday, Prior denied bond for York, even though a former
elementary school principal and two Macon police officers
testified on his behalf.
Prior also said he will allow the prosecution to use testimony
regarding the child molestation, which amounts to 64 similar
transactions. According to assistant district attorney Dawn
Baskin, this testimony will come from adults who say they were
sexually abused by York while they were children, people who
"solicited" sex from children and adults on York's behalf, and
from adults who participated in group sex acts with York similar
to group sex acts the prosecution alleges York participated in
York's attorney Manny Aurora said that with 197 counts against
his client, the prosecution didn't need 64 more.
"They've got 197 counts - let's fight over those," Aurora said.
Prior also said he would allow the defense to put up York's
followers as witnesses who can testify that they lived at the
village and were not molested. Baskin argued against it, but
Aurora said the prosecution only wants to "let in all the bad
"That's our whole defense," Aurora said.