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Trial Date Set in Beating Death of Gay Sailor : Navy: Court-martial of airman accused of killing shipmate in Japanese toilet had been delayed.


YOKOSUKA, Japan — Airman Apprentice Terry M. Helvey, accused of beating to death a gay Navy shipmate, will go on trial June 1, a U.S. Navy court-martial judge ruled here Friday.

The judge, Cmdr. David P. Holcombe, said that selection of jurors from among U.S. sailors and Marines serving in Japan will begin May 23.

At least five jurors must be seated. No maximum is specified under Navy regulations.

Lawyers for the 21-year-old Helvey, accused of killing Seaman Allen R. Schindler, 22, in a public toilet in Sasebo, Japan, last Oct. 27, accepted the new trial date without protest.

Earlier, they had objected to a proposal by prosecutors to start the trial Feb. 20 and then won postponement of an April 27 date originally fixed by the judge.

Holcombe set the new date in a hearing at the U.S. Navy base here that serves as headquarters of the U.S. 7th Fleet and the U.S. Navy Japan.

Helvey and Schindler both had served aboard the Belleau Wood, an amphibious assault ship based in Sasebo on the southern island of Kyushu.

A month before he was slain, Schindler disclosed his homosexuality to his commanding officer and requested a discharge from the Navy.

Judge Holcombe approved the use of a closed-circuit TV camera to transmit a fixed scene of the trial into an adjoining room to permit an unlimited number of reporters to cover the court-martial. So far, only 10 seats have been available for reporters covering pretrial hearings in a tiny court-martial room.

Filming of the trial for television news broadcasts has been banned.

Helvey is charged with committing homicide, assaulting two Navy shore patrolmen, making a false statement to Navy authorities and "obstructing justice." Death is the maximum penalty for a homicide conviction.

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