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Trial to begin for man accused in clinic fire

By DINESH RAMDE
Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A federal jury in Green Bay will hear testimony starting on Monday in the case of a Kaukauna man accused of smashing a window at a Planned Parenthood clinic and starting a small fire inside.

Francis G. Grady, 50, is charged with arson and intentionally damaging a reproductive-health facility. His trial is expected to last two days.

Both sides have agreed to let Grady attend the trial in civilian clothing and without shackles, “as there are no safety concerns at this point,” according to minutes of the final pretrial hearing.

Federal prosecutors said they plan to play a video in which Grady allegedly acknowledged to investigators that he broke the clinic window, poured gasoline inside and ignited the fluid. The fire caused minimal damage to an exam room.

At an April hearing Grady said he planned to plead guilty to both charges. But in a handwritten letter dated June 16, he told the judge he would plead guilty to breaking the window but not to arson.

In the letter he also accuses his federal defender of lying and adds, “Innocent & forgiveness under eyes of the Lord & spirit.” He signed the letter “Francis Gerald Grady child of God. Holy Flesh.”

Grady drove up to the Grand Chute clinic in a white van on a Sunday evening in April, when the facility was closed and no one was inside, according to a criminal complaint. A surveillance camera shows him smashing a window with a hammer, and a short time later flames are seen inside and around the building, the complaint said.

The van drove away, and Grady was involved in a traffic accident in Kaukauna. He was arrested then for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, and officers noted that his white van matched the description of the vehicle on the surveillance tape.

The next day Grady admitted that he “lit up the clinic,” the complaint said. He allegedly told investigators he filled a plastic water bottle with gasoline, which he poured into the building after breaking the window.

“Grady advised he has protested against abortions in front of that Planned Parenthood clinic on prior occasions,” the complaint said. “Grady said he is pro-life, believes in God and disapproves of the activities taking place at the clinic.”

Grady was being held at the Wisconsin Resource Center, a specialized mental health facility. He was not permitted to accept incoming calls, and a message left with his defense attorney was not immediately returned.

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