Trial for lesbian hikers' murders postponed

BY admin

July 18 2003 12:00 AM ET

A federal judge has postponed the trial of a man accused in the slashing deaths of two lesbian hikers seven years ago in Shenandoah National Park. Darrell Rice is accused of killing Julianne Williams, 24, who grew up in Minnesota, and Laura Winans, 26, of Maine, at their campsite in May 1996. Prosecutors say the women were tied up and their throats were cut. A U.S. district judge on Monday delayed the start of Rice's trial, which is scheduled for July 24, at the request of the defense lawyer, who said he needs time to review thousands of government documents pertaining to the attack. The lawyer said he has had trouble locating witnesses due to stale contact information provided by the government and that prosecutors haven't turned over files he requested.

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty. The Justice Department invoked the federal hate-crimes statute, quoting Rice as saying the women "deserved to die because they were lesbian." Rice, 35, is serving 11 years for the attempted abduction of another woman the year after Winans and Williams were killed. She said that she was cycling alone in the park when Rice forced her off the road and told her to
get into his pickup truck.

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