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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2008

Man charged in plot to kill Obama says grand jury skewed


MEMPHIS One of two white supremacists charged with plotting to kill President-elect Barack Obama and dozens of other black people argued Thursday that a federal grand jury was racially stacked against him.

Daniel Cowart, 20, said his indictment should be dismissed.

A grand jury indicted Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, 18, on Nov. 5, charging them with plotting to kill Mr. Obama, possessing a sawed-off shotgun, carrying guns across state lines to commit crimes, and planning to rob a licensed firearms dealer.

Mr. Cowart and Mr. Schlesselman are awaiting trial without bond at a northwest Tennessee jail, on lock down in a two-man cell, and separated from other inmates for their own safety.

In his petition, Mr. Cowart said the grand jury had two white members, while 21 were African-American or of another race or races. The jury, he said, could not under the most modest constitutional scrutiny ... be considered fair, impartial, and unprejudiced.

Prosecutors declined comment.

Authorities describe Mr. Cowart and Mr. Schlesselman as white supremacist skinheads and accuse them of plotting a robbery and killing spree in which 88 black victims were to be slain.

The rampage was to culminate, authorities say, in an attack on Mr. Obama with both suspects decked out in white tuxedoes and firing guns from a speeding car. No trial date has been set.

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