LOS ANGELES - Prosecutors and defense attorneys asked a federal judge Thursday to delay the murder trial of a white supremacist until late April citing complexities of the case which may involve a mental illness defense.
Buford O'Neal Furrow is charged with murdering Filipino-American postal employee Joseph Ileto after shooting and wounding three boys, a teen-age girl and a receptionist at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in San Fernando Valley on Aug. 10, 1999.
The government is seeking the death penalty in the trial which had been set for Feb. 27. A stipulation between the federal prosecutors and Furrow's public defenders agrees that the date be changed to April 24.
The stipulation, which needs the signature of U.S. District Judge Nora Manella, said that unusual elements including the government decision to seek the death penalty and ''the potential complex mental issues that may arise'' make a postponement essential.
The case has already been delayed several times and had a change of judges when the first trial judge was elevated to the appeals court.
''This case is so unusual and complex, due to the nature of the prosecution and the existence of novel questions of law, that it is necessary to continue the trial date ... to allow counsel to prepare adequately for pretrial proceedings and trial,'' the stipulation said.
Prosecutors said that on Oct. 30 the defense filed summaries of testimony by four expert witnesses it plans to call at trial. The government lawyers said they need more time to respond to these documents. Under the new schedule they would respond on Jan. 16.
The lawyers noted that to date, more than 5,000 pages of discovery material have been turned over to the defense. They said the amount of documentation also supports a need for a continuance.