Participants in President Ford attempted assassination case to discuss Fromme's 1975 trial

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B

The Sacramento historical society that won release of President Gerald Ford's videotaped testimony in the Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme case plans a Sept. 24 panel discussion on the 1975 trial of Fromme that led to her conviction for the attempted assassination of the president.

The discussion, sponsored by the Eastern District Historical Society, will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Anthony M. Kennedy Library and Learning Center inside the federal courthouse in Sacramento at 501 I St.

The event is free and open to the public but seating is expected to be very limited.

The discussion will feature participants in the trial, including Dwayne Keyes and Don Heller, the U.S. attorney and assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Fromme, and John Virga, Fromme's court-appointed defense attorney.

Also speaking will be Doug Duncan, the Secret Service agent in charge of the Sacramento office at the time. Senior U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb will serve as moderator.

More information on the historical society can be found at www.courthistory.org.

The society, concerned that the tape would degrade with age, won its legal effort last week to have the videotaped testimony of the president unsealed and transferred to DVD.

The Sacramento Bee joined in the society's legal efforts and received a copy of the testimony Monday, allowing it to be viewed widely for the first time in decades.

Sacramento videographer Patrick Kuske inspected the 3/4-inch tape Monday in the presence of a Secret Service agent and said that despite its age the tape was in good condition. He then copied it onto DVDs for the historical society, The Bee, the court and the National Archives. Secret Service Senior Special Agent Brian J. Korbs then returned the tape to the court.

Ford's participation in the videotape marked the first time oral testimony had been given by a sitting president in a criminal trial.

Fromme was arrested after pointing a loaded .45-caliber pistol at the president while he was walking through Capitol Park on Sept. 5, 1975. She was sentenced to life after her conviction and released from prison in 2009.

Ford, the 38th president, died at the age of 93 in 2006.

Call The Bee's Sam Stanton, (916) 321-1091.

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