Prosecutors seek grand jury indictment for 'NATO 3'

Terror conspiracy suspects left to right: Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly
May 22, 2012 2:46:09 PM PDT
The lawyers for three men arrested on terrorism charges during the NATO summit say their clients are being mistreated.

The defense lawyers accuse prosecutors of being slow and secretive as they finalize formal charges. Instead of holding a preliminary hearing, prosecutors will go to a grand jury.

Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Betterly are being held at the Cook County Jail's Cermak Hospital, where officials say they've been kept alone under observation since the weekend to ensure they're not a risk to themselves or other inmates. They were arrested on Wednesday in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood after police allegedly found equipment to make Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs. All three are being held on $1.5 million bond.

On Tuesday, attorneys for the three men called their confinement "cruel and unusual."

"They have nothing to read. They have no writing material. It's a kind of a sensory deprivation situation for them. And this is a way to break someone's spirit," Michael Deutsch, Church's attorney, said.

Defense attorneys also complain they've been shown no evidence by prosecutors, who were granted a continuance Tuesday as they seek an indictment from a grand jury.

"Obviously they didn't want to have a preliminary hearing today to reveal any of their evidence. We were prepared for a preliminary hearing. We wanted one," Tom Durkin, Chase's attorney, said.

None of the men has ever been convicted of any felonies though Chase and Betterly have had several scrapes with the law. Betterly turned himself into authorities last fall after he and others were seen on a surveillance tape breaking into a Florida school and throwing a pool party after a night of drinking.

Relatives in Florida say Betterly is not a terrorist.

"He's a nice young guy. He's just going through a rough time right now. He's a good father. He's got a 4-year-old son up in New York," Becky Barfield, Betterly's stepmother, said.

On Tuesday, Occupy Chicago released more photos -- which ABC 7 has chosen not to broadcast -- of what the group suspects are two undercover police officers who infiltrated protesters and led to the arrest of the NATO 3.

"Occupy Chicago and other people are very concerned and want to be sure to expose the fact that they believe that people have been attempting to create and manufacture crimes within their community. And we believe they have a right to do that," Sarah Gelsomino, National Lawyers Guild, said.

Officials say Church, Chase and Betterly's observations at Cermak Hospital will likely end sometime Tuesday, at which point they'll join the rest of the jail population. Their next court date is scheduled for June 12th.

Prosecutors say they may not have an indictment ready on that date either.

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