The Cult Observer
Conviction in Jonestown Murder of Rep. Ryan
From AP and the Boston Globe, December 2, 1986
Former Peoples Temple members Larry Layton was convicted
yesterday by a federal jury in San Francisco of conspiring in the 1978 murder of
California congressman Leo Ryan. The killing precipitated the mass murder-suicide by Rev.
Jim Joness followers at their settlement in Guyana.
Layton, 40, was also convicted of aiding and abetting in Ryans
murder and conspiracy and aiding and abetting in the attempted murder of Richard Dwyer, a
US diplomat wounded in the attack.
"This man was a killer," US Attorney Joseph Russoneillo
told reporters after the verdict, who took part in the plot "because he was a
The court found that Layton was involved in a plan to keep Rep. Ryan
and his party from reaching the outside world with news of conditions at Jonestown. Layton
admitted shooting and wounding two dissident Peoples Temple members who were trying to
leave with Ryan.
The verdict, which came after 25 hours of deliberation, did not
visibly upset Layton, who instead consoled his lawyers before being led away by federal
marshals. The defendant, whose first trial ended in a hung jury in 1981, had been free on
bail and working under an alias.
Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Peckham scheduled sentencing for
January 23; the Ryan murder charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison. Defense
attorneys said that they would appeal the conviction.
Laytons sister Debbie, whose departure from the Peoples Temple
and denunciation of Jones in May 1978 led her brother to leave California to join the
settlement in Guyana, sat in the front row of the courtroom sobbing, her head in her