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Supremacist's lawyer cites coded message

Says he was asked to relay it last year

CHICAGO -- An attorney for jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale, who has been a focus of the investigation into the killings of a federal judge's husband and mother, said yesterday that Hale's mother asked him late last year to relay a coded message from Hale to one of his supporters.

Hale, 33, is awaiting sentencing for earlier soliciting the murder of the same jurist, US District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.

Lawyer Glenn Greenwald said that Hale's mother, Evelyn Hutcheson, asked him a few months ago to pass the message.

''She said, 'I don't know what this message means, but Matt made me write it down verbatim so I could read it to you. He said it is an emergency that you communicate this as quickly as possible,' " Greenwald said.

Greenwald said he declined to deliver the message. He said he does not recall what the message was, but said there was no way anyone could understand it unless they were told beforehand what it meant.

''The message was almost a cartoonish version of what a coded message would be," he said.

Greenwald said he did not recall the name of the person who was supposed to receive the message and had never dealt with the person when he represented Hale. He said he talked to the FBI last week.

Federal authorities monitored telephone calls and conversations between Hale and his parents, but Greenwald said an FBI agent on the task force did not know anything about the message.

An official from the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Hale is being held, called Hale's parents Monday and told them they would not be allowed their weekly telephone calls and every-other-week visits, the parents said. They speculated that authorities might be upset over a statement Hale released through his mother last week in which he denied any part in the deaths and suggested the killings might have been staged to bring a stiffer sentence when he is sentenced next month for soliciting Lefkow's murder.

Hutcheson did not immediately return phone calls yesterday. Neither Chicago police nor the FBI in Chicago would comment.

Lefkow found her 64-year-old husband, attorney Michael Lefkow, and 89-year-old mother, Donna Humphrey, shot to death in her basement when she returned home from work Feb. 28.

In the quest for possible motives or leads, police detectives and FBI agents searched Michael Lefkow's law office and spent hours examining his files, a source familiar with the investigation said on condition of anonymity.

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