By Toni Locy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 20, 1995

Prosecutors yesterday asked a federal judge to impose a life sentence on Francisco Martin Duran, the Colorado man convicted of trying to kill President Clinton when he opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle on the White House in October.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Dubelier and Brenda J. Johnson said the life sentence would send a message to others who might consider assaults on the president or the White House. "An important factor is to ensure that the sentence will deter others from engaging in criminal activity," they wrote.

Duran, 26, who is to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey on June 29, opened fire on the president's mansion about a month after a Maryland man died when he crashed a plane on the South Lawn. Since Duran's Oct. 29 assault, a homeless, knife-wielding man was shot to death on the sidewalk in front of the White House, and two other men have jumped the fence.

One of them, Leland William Modjeski, of Falls Church, was shot and wounded by a uniformed Secret Service officer when he refused to drop a handgun he was carrying. The pistol turned out to be inoperable and unloaded.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of 11 to 14 years in prison for Duran. Dubelier and Johnson argued that Richey could increase the term to life in prison because Duran had plotted to kill Clinton and thought he had the president in his sights when he fired 29 times at the north side of the White House.

"It also is appropriate for the court to consider the risk of death or serious bodily injury to the large number of citizens, including many children, who were on the sidewalk adjacent to the White House when the defendant began firing," the prosecutors said.

Duran was tackled by two tourists as he attempted to reload the rifle. During the struggle, Duran jammed the gun into the chest of one of the tourists.

"The monumental threat to the public posed by {the} defendant's conduct warrants a substantial upward departure," Dubelier and Johnson said.