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Convict denies role in deaths of judge's kin

CHICAGO -- Jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale said yesterday that the slaying of a federal judge's husband and elderly mother was a ''heinous crime" that ''only an idiot" would think he ordered, according to a statement released by his mother.

''There is no way that any supporter of mine could commit such a heinous crime," Hale said in the statement, released through his mother after her weekly telephone call to him at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. ''I totally condemn it, and I want the perpetrator caught and prosecuted."

The shootings at the home of US District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow occurred a month before Hale was to be sentenced by another judge for trying to have Lefkow killed. In a dispute on a trademark presided over by Lefkow, she had ordered Hale to change the name of his extremist group.

''I only hope they sincerely wish to apprehend the animal instead of railroading the innocent," Hale said. ''Only an idiot would think I would do this."

Lefkow arrived home after work Monday to find the bodies of her husband, Michael Lefkow, 64, and her mother, Donna Humphrey, 89, in the basement. They had been shot to death.

Lefkow, in an interview published yesterday, vowed that she would not leave the bench. ''Nobody is going to intimidate me off my duty," she told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The judge said she had realized her job could put her at risk but never thought it would endanger her family. ''I think we all sort of go into this thinking it's a possibility, but you don't think it's going to happen to you because it's so unthinkable," she told the Chicago Tribune.

Lefkow is now under guard, along with her four daughters.

Police released sketches Wednesday of two men, saying they want to interview the men based on witness statements. One, a man in his mid-20s, was seen in a car near the Lefkows' home. The other, a man in his 50s, was wearing dark coveralls and a dark knit cap.

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