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Tattoo is pivotal in neo-Nazi's court case

The jury hears both sides debate when he got the forehead marking, but isn't told what it stands for.

By JAMAL THALJI
Published October 11, 2006


[Times photo: Julia Kumari Drapkin]
Neo-Nazi leader Brian "Zero" Buckley, right, and his lawyer Grady Irvin Jr. watch as witness Patricia Wells enters court to testify against Buckley at the West Pasco Government Center on Tuesday. The tattoo on Buckley's forehead says "ANFFAN," which stands for "American Nazi Forever Forever American Nazi."

NEW PORT RICHEY - The letters "ANFFAN" stand more than an inch tall, colored red and outlined in black. There are two theories as to what the tattoo on Brian "Zero" Buckley's forehead stands for. Neither is benign.

It's "American Nazi Forever Forever American Nazi," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups. Pasco detectives and prosecutors think the "AN" stand for "Aryan Nation."

The tattoo became a pivotal issue in the burglary trial Tuesday of the neo-Nazi leader, accused of trying to break into neighbor Patricia Wells' home so he could assault her.

"On this particular evening, Ms. Wells, did I hear you testify you saw Brian Buckley's forehead, but he did not have a forehead tattoo?" defense attorney Grady Irvin Jr. asked the victim.

Wells and her son don't recall that distinctive tattoo. But they testified that it was Buckley who punched his tattooed fist through their front door March 7 as an angry mob assaulted the home, screaming racial slurs and death threats.

Buckley, 44, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He declined to testify on his own behalf.

The trial resumes today with closing arguments.

The neo-Nazis next door constantly harassed them, Wells said, because of a black acquaintance.

"I was terrified," her son, 18-year-old Brandon Wininger, testified. "I was terrified every month I lived in that place."

The prosecution had a Pasco sheriff's detective testify he didn't see the forehead tattoo on Buckley during a September 2005 meeting.

But the defense hammered on the identification issue, and produced a last-minute witness who testified she saw her friend Buckley with the letters as far back as June 2005.

Assistant State Attorney Mary Handsel told the jury of four men and three women it was a "simple case that involves two neighbors."

It was anything but. When prosecution and defense didn't joust with each other, they danced around evidence inadmissible to this case but key to the unsolved stabbing murder of Kristofer King, 17.

King and Wells were attacked in her home March 23, days after prosecutors say Buckley tried to break into the home. Buckley was out of town when the March 23 attack occurred. King died the next night, but Wells survived and blames the neo-Nazi sect Buckley led.

Wells said she will testify about King's slaying in front of a grand jury later this month that could result in murder indictments.

But jurors in the burglary trial weren't allowed to hear about the white supremacists or the murder. They didn't hear the word "Nazi," which was edited from the tape of Wells' 911 call. They didn't hear the hateful words she and her son have described in previous accounts. The jury didn't even learn what the forehead tattoo stood for.

Jurors did hear the defense try to insert reasonable doubt: Neither victim could pin any racial slurs on Buckley; Wininger was nearsighted and didn't have glasses on during the attack; and deputies didn't try to gather fingerprint evidence (the scene was quickly contaminated by other prints, a detective testified).

But Irvin didn't introduce any evidence to support a key contention in his opening statement that Wells harbored a secret motive: "Get rid of Brian Buckley and you get rid of all the trash that's over there."

Buckley spent the day in court flanked by his two attorneys. Irvin is a prominent black attorney appointed to represent Buckley. Jorge Angulo, a Hispanic attorney and former Pinellas-Pasco public defender, works with Irvin's firm.

[Last modified October 10, 2006, 22:55:56]


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