Sumner may get his chance to try Edelman’s case before another jury. The lawyer is currently investigating information that may help explain the adding machine tape found in the Edelman file—the only piece of evidence his defense did not directly dispute. If Sumner turns up enough solid new evidence, Edelman may be granted a new trial. If not, Sumner will pursue an appeal.
Since Robert Edelman’s trial, James Young’s partner, Ken Aten, has said there were other active files on Young’s desk. One was for a debugging job with an Australian-owned company that Young was billing $1,000 a day for a total of $30,000. The other file was a political investigating job for a doctor in Greenville who was running for the hospital board but later pulled out of the race. Aten says Young made a trip to Las Vegas for the doctor and then went to Florida, where he worked the Edelman case and the doctor’s case simultaneously. Young billed the doctor $13,500, Aten says. Young’s new partner, Jim Hass, confirms those amounts—which add up to $43,500. Add to that the $1,500 that Edelman says he paid Young on July 16 and bingo: $45,000. Could the adding machine tape have represented payments for all three cases? Could some of the payment dates in Young’s black book be for those other two jobs? The Greenville doctor, James Raur, wouldn’t reveal the dates he paid Young and says for the record, "I don’t know anything much about what the man may have been doing."
New information may also show Young is indeed capable of masterminding a complicated murder plot. If Young lived his life in a fantasy world of military prowess, at some point it appears that his fantasy became reality—and that reality may have included masterminding a murder-for-hire plot. Young knew enough to make many members of the Dallas Special Forces Association believe his story. Jim Hass, a former president of the association, is the man who bought Young’s business. Hass says that one of the first times he met James Young, Young described to him a highly classified assassination mission from beginning to end. "This would not have been cocktail party conversation," Hass says. "This was not a mission that many people knew about or talked about."
Obviously, someone within the U.S. Army had thought Young credible enough to make him privy to this information.
In the months before Young’s arrest, Hass had been working with him on a new business—Selective Enforcement Consultants International—to offer protection to executives and train security forces in Central America. Hass says he sat in on at least one conference call in Young’s office with an undersecretary of state for Latin America. The three discussed the various permits needed to start the business, which would have imported equipment and supplies to securities forces—including arms.
Shortly after Young’s arrest, Hass says, a file was stolen from his office. Hass says the file held details of another mission in Southeast Asia, a POW rescue. "Young was the director, the force behind the mission," Hass says.
Hass also says that after Young was arrested, he visited him in jail to talk about buying the business. On one occasion, Hass says that Young gave him a contact name and a procedure for contacting a person who identified himself to Hass as a former high-ranking officer with the CIA. Young wanted Hass to contact this man about an ongoing rescue attempt of hostages in the Middle East. Young had told Hass and Fred Zabitosky about the case and said that it was so hot that "even Ross Perot wouldn’t touch it."
If all this is true, then surely a man capable of planning rescue attempts in hostile countries has a mind creative enough to carry through a murder-for-hire scheme. "My firm belief," says Hass, a decorated veteran, "is that James Young is or was a member of the intelligence community of the United States. Sometimes these people go rogue. If that is the case with Young, it wouldn’t be the first time that happened."
And in a second trial, Steve Sumner may be able to get his expert witness’ testimony admitted. Judge Sanders denied the testimony of linguist Roger W. Shuy, chairman of the linguistics department at Georgetown University. Shuy was instrumental in the Cullen Davis trial in 1979. Shuy says he analyzed the FBI tapes of Young and broke down the patterns of conversation. Then he tried to fit them with a typical murder-for-hire contract. Of the four murder-for-hire cases that Shuy has worked on, he says this is the first where conversations between the client and original contractor weren’t on the tapes and where the hit man didn’t have money up front.
"I was prepared to say that the FBI agent regularly offered opportunities for Young to offer information about or from the client. But Young is evasive and that never happens," Shuy says. "My conclusions were that James Young did not indicate authorization of a husband client and in fact acted on his own."
In the meantime, Robert Edelman’s life is in limbo. Diana Key waits for him in an addition Robert’s parents built onto their house in North Dallas. She is undergoing a conversion to Judaism. Edelman’s financial problems continue to mount. The day after he was convicted, MBank filed a $400,000 lawsuit against him for nonpayment of real estate loans. More suits from other lenders are expected to follow. In March, Edelman’s office in Cedar Maple Plaza was closed. The custody case for the Edelman children is set for May 2, and Robert plans to be at that trial, though he says the custody issue is basically a moot point given his conviction. The children have moved out of the huge house on Caruth and live with their mother in a house she rents in University Park. Linda Edelman supports the children with a $4,500-a-month allowance that comes out of $400,000 in proceeds from the sale of the Caruth house. She also has a part-time job and teaches voice lessons in her home.
The length of Robert Edelman’s prison stay will depend largely on the other case pending against him; he is charged by the state with solicitation of capital murder. Edelman’s federal sentence was 10 years and a $100,000 fine, but the state violation carries a range of punishment of five to 99 years. When D went to press, assistant district attorney Charlie Mitchell had not made a plea recommendation to Edelman or to James Young, though it was expected that Young would also plead guilty and testify against Edelman for the state.
Despite the considerable gamble, Sumner says that Edelman is looking forward to the state trial and would rather take his chances before another jury and risk life in prison than admit he plotted to murder his wife. Why is Robert Edelman willing to gamble years of his life? "Because I am completely innocent," Edelman says.