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Cult Leader Given 15-Year Sentence for Manslaughter

November 01, 1986|Associated Press

GEORGETOWN, Guyana — David Hill, founder of the House of Israel religious cult and longtime U.S. fugitive, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in a jungle prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Hill, a 58-year-old American, and co-defendants Anthony Walcott, Philbert Clarke and Vincent Hinds, originally pleaded innocent to murder in the 1977 beating death of a cult member, but then pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. All four were given 15-year sentences.

Authorities said they will serve their sentence in a jungle jail 50 miles west of Georgetown, Guyana's capital. The jail is near the site where the House of Israel commune once was located.

The four were charged in the 1977 beating death of a fellow cult member, James Maion, after a four-month police investigation based on testimony from cult defectors.

Hill, who called himself Rabbi Edward Washington, was referred to as "king" by cult members. In the United States, he was convicted of extortion after he led the picketing in 1969 of fast food franchises in Cleveland in an effort to force the sale of restaurants in black neighborhoods to black owners.

He jumped bail in 1971 and found his way to this small country on the northern coast of South America, where he set up the House of Israel. The cult has no relation to the nation of Israel or to Judaism, although Hill claimed to follow Kosher dietary laws and the Torah. The group's main belief was that Jesus Christ was black and blacks were the true Jews.

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