Thursday, October 11, 2007

Defense continues closing statements in boot camp case

CLOSINGS CONTINUE, 3:12 p.m., Central Time: Jurors are now listening to the boot camp's nurses attorney, Ashley Benedik, give her closing statement.

Benedik, the fourth defense attorney to give a closing statement, said jurors need to remember that the drill instructors and the nurse had to make quick decisions that day in the boot camp yard. They did not have the benefit of watching the video, of slowing things down, of rewinding.

"They were there once, they were there in the moment," she said.

DEFENSE BEGINS CLOSING, 2:08 p.m., Central Time: Defense attorney Robert Sombathy is giving the closing statement now.

Sombathy started off by telling jurors that the state has been "twisting and turning and dancing" to avoid conflicting evidence about what killed Martin Lee Anderson.

He pointed to the state's closing statement, which focused largely on the drill instructors' care of the teen, and he said it didn't match up to the state's claims at the start of the trial.

"You know, I thought this case was about suffocation," he said.

He is focused on sickle cell trait, which he says it not the benign medical condition the state has claimed. He pointed to the University of Oklahoma football team's internist, Dr. Edward Eichner. Listen to that testimony, it was key, he said.

"It's the science, and it doesn't change," he said.

DEMONSTRATIONS FOR BOTH SIDES, 1:50 p.m., Central Time: People waving signs outside the courthouse show the opposing views of the boot camp case.

As everyone returned to court after lunch, they passed a few people demonstrating across the street.

Three people held homemade posters. Bridgette Smith, 35, of Panama City held a sign that read, "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere."

Smith said she came because she's the mother of three boys. She wanted to show support for Martin Lee Anderson's family.

Asked about the verdict, she said she didn't know what would happen.

"I hope justice would be served," she said.

Nearby, a man waived another sign, this one on plastic, with professional lettering, read: "I want justice also. Find our law officers not guilty."

Don Gray, 35, of Panama City said he's never demonstrated for anything before, but he felt he couldn't stand by without commenting on this case.

He said he's received mixed reactions from passing motorists, some supportive, some not so supportive.

"I didn't come out expecting no cake walk," he said.

STATE CONTINUES CLOSING ARGUMENT, 1:48 p.m., Central Time: Court has just resumed after the lunch break, and prosecutors are still presenting their closing argument in the case. Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore started the closing statement at 10 a.m., and he's wrapping up now.

COMPLIANCE, NOT FIRST AID, PROSECUTOR ARGUES, 11:39 a.m., Central Time: Drill instructors used ammonia capsules to make Martin Lee Anderson do what they wanted, not for first aid, said Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore.

"They were never concerned with his health in the first place," Sinacore said. "They were concerned with what? Getting him to finish the run."

Sinacore is making the closing argument for the state in the boot camp case. He first explained the state's view that guards and the camp's nurse killed the teen. Then, he walked jurors through yet another play-by-play of the videotape at the boot camp. This time, red arrows pointed out each guard and the nurse and gave each person's name.

Sinacore then went through each of the possible criminal charges in the case, from most severe to least: aggravated manslaughter of a child, manslaughter, child neglect and culpable negligence.

He asked them to look first at child neglect, that the camp employee's treatment of the teen is the crux of the case.

"The purpose of forcing Martin Lee Anderson to finish the run is those two things: domination and control," he said.

PROSECUTORS BEGIN CLOSING STATEMENT, 10:22 a.m., Central Time: Hillsborough Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore is beginning opening statements for the state in the boot camp case.

"What it's about is getting to the truth," Sinacore said. "The case is about Martin Lee Anderson. The case is about these eight defendants. The case is about responsibility and accountability. The case is about trying to find the truth."

He started by telling the jurors to ignore the "distractions" in the case.

He urges jurors to focus on Martin Lee Anderson's death that day, not on the fact that it's the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office, not the Bay County prosecutors who are trying the case.

"It's not about that," Sinacore says. "This case is not about Bay County versus Hillsborough County. The people of Bay County deserve to try this case."

He also urged that jurors not bother with questions about why the teen was at the boot camp or whether he should have been allowed to attend because of sickle cell trait.

The experts have agreed that sickle cell trait is not a disease, and the teen likely would have attended the camp even if authorities were aware he had the trait, Sinacore said.

He also urged the jurors not to blame the teen or his family for his being at the boot camp, even though he had sickle cell trait.

"Use your common sense, ladies and gentlemen," Sinacore said. "Do you think Martin Anderson knew he had sickle cell trait?"

TWO ABSENT DUE TO ILLNESS, 10:10 a.m., Central Time: A middle-aged man who sat on the front row of the jury has been excused with an illness, said Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet.

The judge also said that one of the accused guards, former drill instructor Joseph Walsh II, will not be in court today because he is ill.

Walsh was hospitalized Wednesday after collapsing in a break room at the courthouse, according to his parents.

CLOSING ARGUMENTS SET TO START, 10:04 a.m., Central Time: All have just arrived back in court this morning in the boot camp case.

Closing arguments are set to begin this morning, just after 10 a.m.

"We've already heard all the evidence in this case, that's done," said Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet.

The judge warns the audience to behave during the closing arguments. He tells them that if they express any emotion, "I have no other options but to remove you from the courtroom."

"You understand that my concern is that they render a fair and just verdict," the judge said.

On Wednesday, Martin Lee Anderson's father was removed from court after a defense attorney accused him of being one of several people making comments in the case.

The father was allowed back in court today after the judge met with the father, Robert Anderson, and his attorney, Ben Crump, Crump said before court started.

JUROR ILL, 10:03 a.m., Central Time: One of the jurors in the boot camp case has become ill and will not be in court, according to Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet.

The jury panel for the case includes six jurors and four alternates.

October 11, 2007 in State | Permalink

No comments: