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FIGLEY STICKS TO STORY THAT STEVENS WAS MASTERMIND OF MAIL BOMBINGS THAT KILLED FIVE

Earl Figley stuck to his story Wednesday and managed to add even more damning details to his testimony that Michael Stevens, a longtime friend and almost father figure, sent off a series of package bombs that killed four relatives of Stevens' girlfriend and a fifth bystander.

Figley, the government's star witness against Stevens, endured his first day of cross-examination in U.S. District Court after telling jurors earlier in the day that Stevens concocted elaborate alibis for both men should the police question them.

Figley also testified that Stevens, a small-time con man, was still trying to persuade Figley to take the blame even after Figley signed a nearly 100-page confession about his supporting role in the fatal bombings.

According to Figley, Stevens wanted him to recant the confession.

"There's no sense of both of us spending the rest of our lives in prison," Figley quoted Stevens telling him in a holding cell before their arraignment.

Figley, normally a plodding, emotionless witness, wept as he recalled how he confessed his role in the Dec. 28, 1993, killings.

Figley took off his glasses and wiped his eyes as he ended his direct testimony and defense lawyer William Easton Jr. stepped up to try to destroy his story.

Figley is testifying against Stevens after pleading guilty last month in return for a 20-year sentence.

He's the key witness against Stevens, a resident of the Rochester suburb of Victor, on trial for allegedly sending dynamite mail bombs disguised as toolboxes to family members of his girlfriend, Brenda Chevere.

The bombs killed Ms. Chevere's mother, Eleanor Fowler, 56, in her West Valley home. A second bomb killed her husband, Robert, 38, and a co-worker, John O'Donnell, 23, at a Cheektowaga armored car depot.

A third bomb killed Ms. Chevere's sister, Pamela Lazore Lanza, 32, and her friend, Richard Urban, 42, at Ms. Lanza's Rochester apartment.

And a fourth bomb injured Ms. Lazore's uncle, William Lazore, 62, on the St. Regis Indian Reservation in Franklin County.

For Stevens' defense to succeed, his lawyers must convince jurors that Figley -- not Stevens -- designed and sent the bombs.

Figley, a frail man who looks much older than his 57 years, appeared befuddled and often seemed as if he hadn't heard the questions put to him.

Figley suffered eye and brain damage in a car accident years ago and sometimes takes as long as half a minute pondering a question before he answers, even then sometimes with a simple yes or no.

The defense lawyer, leading Figley through his long friendship with Stevens attempted to downplay Figley's almost slavish devotion to Stevens. He instead brought out how Figley often ran some of Stevens' scams on his own.

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