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The Bill of Particulars had been requested by Pope’s defense attorney for the purposes of clarifying the identity of those threatened, how they were threatened and how, exactly, the government “will seek to prove [this act] was in the furtherance of the conspiracy alleged in Count 1.”
“I think that these AETA prosecutions, in general, tend to be really vague,” Merrpole says. “Perhaps because the U.S. doesn’t want to acknowledge that they are threatening people with long prison terms for chanting slogans or writing things in chalk.”
Stumpo and Pope are also being charged in connection with a July 27, 2008, incident in which they allegedly used a computer at a Santa Cruz Kinko’s to search for information about 11 biomedical researchers who worked at the University of Santa Cruz. This information was later printed on a flier titled, “Murderers and Torturers Alive and Well in Santa Cruz July 2008 edition,” which was on a table at a coffeehouse two blocks away. The flier identified 13 researchers and stated, “Animal abusers everywhere, beware, we know where you live, we know where you work, we will never back down until you end your abuse.”
The next hearing in the AETA 4 case is set for July 19 in the San Jose federal courthouse; a trial date could be set then. Bradford believes the case will “almost certainly” go to trial.
The prosecuting attorneys declined to comment on the ongoing case. “We have to let the courts work it out,” says Jack Gillund, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of California.
Stumpo and Pope, meanwhile, have tried to live as normally as possible as young newlyweds. But, as Bradford notes, “Living under a federal indictment is a very stressful environment to be in.”
This article appeared in print as "Chalk and Awe: A Long Beach couple faces up to five years in federal prison for aggressively protesting animal research at UC schools up north."