The Zebra Killers
Mayor Alioto told the press that the suspects were all members of a ring of Black Muslim murderers called "Death Angels," which he described in a statement as a group "dedicated to the murder and mutilation of whites and dissident blacks."
Local black leaders took offense at the mayor's proclamation.
"The statement seems to suggest one should be careful when around people who dress neatly in the Black Muslim fashion," Lowell Johnston of the local NAACP legal defense fund told reporters.
Black Muslim leader John Muhammad called on the mayor to apologize and said the arrest of the suspects was "nothing less than harassment." He pooh-poohed the "Death Angel" theory and denied there was a nationwide conspiracy by Black Muslims to kill whites.
"If he's a Christian, a churchgoing man, he'll talk to his pastor or priest and come out with an apology for his actions," Muhammad told the Chronicle.
Muhammad also attacked Anthony Harris's credibility as an informer, describing Harris as a former mental patient, a "crackpot" and "a man who has a mental problem."
The Chronicle interviewed the parents of 22-year-old Larry Green, who was charged with the machete murder of Quita Hague and the maiming of her husband, Richard.
"He's a lovable child," his mother said. "Every time he comes over, he kisses me."
"Larry was a quiet person," his father added. "He's a person who implicated that whatever he believed in, he believed in doing right…he never talked about militancy."
Green was a furniture mover for Black Self Help and had joined the Black Muslims two and half years before the murders. He graduated from Berkeley High School and attended Laney and Merritt Community Colleges for a brief period before dropping out. He lived with his wife and her 3-year-old daughter.
The trial began on March 3, 1975, and became the longest criminal trial in California history, lasting over a year. Superior Court Judge Joseph Karesh presided over the case, which included 181 witnesses and 3.5 million words of testimony.