Local News

Former Paratrooper Testifies He Helped Make...

Posted Updated

FAYETTEVILLE — About a month before two black people weregunned down in a city street, a paratrooper charged with thekillings made a bomb to prepare for ``a racial holy war,'' a formerfriend testified Thursday.

The bomb was used by defendant James N. Burmeister and otherstoblow up a 30-pound stump as a test of its power, said RandyMeadows, a former Fort Bragg soldier and defendant in the murdercase.

``There was nothing left of the stump,'' Meadows said. ``It wasgreat.''

By the lunch break, Meadows had not testified about drivingBurmeister to the dirt street where the killings occurred.

Meadows told District Attorney Ed Grannis that Burmeisterwantedto build and test the bomb ``so he could have the knowledge forlater in the Rahowa, the racial holy war.''

The defendant talked about blowing up a Jewish synagogue,Meadows said, and even looked in a telephone book for an address.The conversation took place in Meadows' and Burmeister's barracksin the 82nd Airborne Division area of Fort Bragg.

Meadows also said in the month before the killings, he droveBurmeister from a room he rented off base to a barracks room whereskinheads were creating a formal structure. Meadows didn't attendthe meeting because he wasn't a skinhead, he said.

Burmeister later told Meadows he had been assigned a low rankinthe organization. Prosecutors contend the killings were carried outas part of an initiation.

Burmeister, 21, of Thompson, Pa., is charged with two counts offirst-degree murder. He is accused of shooting to death JackieBurden, 22, and Michael James, 36, shortly after midnight on Dec.7, 1995.

Meadows, 22, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder fordriving the car. He accepted a plea agreement to a lesser chargeand agreed to testify against Burmeister and Malcolm Wright, 22,another extremist who was in the elite airborne division. Wright ischarged with murder and is scheduled to be tried in March.

Both Burmeister and Wright face a death sentence if convicted.

Before the testimony started, defense lawyers objected toevidence about racial attitudes and hate symbols. After nearly twohours of argument outside the jury's presence, Superior Court JudgeCoy Brewer Jr. allowed prosecutors to continue with their evidence.

On Wednesday, hate lyrics filled a courtroom Wednesday asprosecutors continued to lay groundwork to show a former soldierkilled two black people because of his extremist beliefs.

Relatives of the victims bowed their heads as the strains ofonesong about shooting black people echoed in the small courtroom.Another song, titled ``Doc Marten Dental Plan,'' was about usingskinhead boots to kick in people's teeth.

``Point it at their heads and let's have some fun. ... It's somuch fun to mow them down,'' said one line of a song. The song alsohad lyrics about shooting people in the back.

When District Attorney Ed Grannis argued with defense lawyersover the relevance of the songs, he described it as ``a premonitionof what happened to my two victims,''

Meadows testified that he wasn't a racist, but that Burmeisterfrequently said black people should be sent back to Africa or``rounded up and shot.''

``Who was going to do that shooting, did he say?'' Grannisasked.

``No, sir,'' said Meadows, who was arrested at the scene of theshooting.

Meadows also testified that Burmeister jumped into a bar fightto kick a drunken solder in the teeth with his Doc Marten workboots, favored by skinheads, and then bragged about it.

The testimony showed the social life of some Fort Braggsoldierswho favored the extremist, skinhead lifestyle while off duty. Onceat a bar, Wright spit beer in a gay black man's face and laterpicked a fight, Meadows said.

Burmeister and Meadows met in the paratrooper barracks at FortBragg and became drinking buddies. Meadows said the pair would eachdrink a case or more of beer a night on weekends and drankregularly during the week after work, usually in Burmeister's room,which was festooned with German flags and white supremacistsymbols.

Burmeister had a religious belief that white people createdthings such a government and businesses and Orientals sustainedthem, Meadows said.

``The destroyers were blacks,'' he said. ``The Nazi flagrepresented a country he was very proud of because they believed inpurifying the race to make it stronger.''

One night, Burmeister and others went into Fayetteville to beatup black drug dealers, Meadows said.

A black female got into their car to go to a house to buy drugsand when the soldiers and the woman got out of the car ``one of thethree maced her and then beat her down to the ground,'' Meadowssaid.

Another time, Meadows, Burmeister, Wright and another soldierwent to beat up black prostitutes. They followed one to her houseand sprayed her with Mace and knocked her down in her doorway,Meadows testified.

``It was Burmeister's idea of having fun, wasn't it?'' Grannissaid.

``Yes sir,'' Meadows answered.

From staff and wire reportsCopyright ©1997 AssociatedPress. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast,rewritten, or distributed.


Copyright 2022 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.