As sentencing looms, attorney for purported leader of conspiracy seeks to discredit prosecution witness
Published: Fri May 26 2023|Updated: 12 minutes ago
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - The lawyer for a man accused of orchestrating a conspiracy to set fires to Walmart stores spent Friday morning grilling the woman who has admitted starting the blazes.
A marathon two-day evidentiary hearing concluded without any of the defendants learning their punishment Most of them will be sentenced next week.
Jeffery Sikes pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to maliciously set fires. Although he has admitted guilt, his attorney contested characterizations of his client as a manipulative charlatan who practically brainwashed his co-defendants.
“That’s a good defense for the co-defendants to point the finger and say they were just hanging out with the wrong crew, that they’re a babe in the woods,” attorney Tom Walsh said after the hearing. “But, you know, I’m just focused on my client.”
Court records indicate that Sikes, his wife and several others lived together as a “family” in a rented house in Lillian, plotting their campaign to force change at the nation’s largest retailer. They have admitted to distributing a manifesto called “Declaration of War and Demands for the People,” which outlines various grievances against Walmart and makes demands that include higher pay and better working conditions for employees.
The FBI began investigating after a fire severely damaged the Watlmart in...
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