Appeals court upholds Yahweh's murder conspiracy conviction

A federal appeals court has upheld the murder conspiracy conviction of Yahweh Ben Yahweh, who once received millions of dollars of tax breaks and had a day proclaimed in his honor by Miami officials. Yahweh is a leader of the Nation of Yahweh, also known as the Temple of Love.At the height of his power, Yahweh, who was born Hulon Mitchell, Jr., had several thousand followers, some of whom purportedly killed for him. At least 14 murders are believed to have been carried out on Yahweh's orders. Some of the murders were of former followers, critics or people who competed with his businesses, which ranged from inner-city groceries to hotels and restaurants.

Several other murders were committed against randomly chosen white people, simply to prove that the killer was worthy of Yahweh's highest blessings. Yahweh and his followers were black. Yahweh often referred to white people as devils or used similar epitaphs against them.In a 24-page opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected every defense argument. The opinion described in strong language how Yahweh went from being Hulon Mitchell to Yahweh Ben Yahweh, which means "God son of God" in Hebrew. It recounted how Yahweh sent death angels to kill his enemies and an incident in 1986 when Yahweh ordered the fire-bombing of a neighborhood in Delray Beach, Florida.

Yahweh ordered the arsonists to stand in front of the residences and use their swords and machetes to murder anyone who tried to exit the burning houses, the court said.And, the court added, he sent his death angels into the Miami community on multiple occasions to kill white people randomly and to commit acts of retribution against blacks who interfered with the Yahweh's sales of products and collection of donations.

Even after the allegations began coming to light, Miami city officials granted tax breaks to Yahweh businesses and praised him as a positive force in the city's poor neighborhoods. After a five-month trial in 1992, Yahweh and six others were found guilty of racketeering conspiracy. Yahweh was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

(From "Conviction of Miami cult leader upheld", St. Petersburg Times, Jan. 6, 1996, p.3A.)

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