Saturday, December 12, 2009

State rests in Hoffman-murder trial

After four days of mostly uncontested testimony from 30 witnesses, prosecutors rested their case Thursday afternoon in the murder trial of Deneilo Bradshaw, one of two men accused of killing police informant Rachel Hoffman.

The trial was anticipated to take up to three weeks, but most of the evidence and testimony presented by the state has gone unchallenged by Bradshaw's defense team. The two sides have been collegial and proceedings have been swift.

After a day's break today, Bradshaw's defense team is set to present its case at 9 a.m. Monday. Attorneys plan to call six witnesses, which are anticipated to take about a half-day to testify. Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday morning, with jurors to begin deliberations in the afternoon.

If jurors return a guilty verdict, the case will enter a penalty phase. Bradshaw, 24, faces life in prison or death by lethal injection. Jurors would recommend the sentence; the judge is to give it great weight, then make the call.

Bradshaw could be found guilty of first-degree murder if jurors find Hoffman's killing was premeditated or if it was the consequence of a robbery. If he carried out the actual killing or was the principal player, he could face the death penalty.

Limited sequester

Before the state put its final five witnesses on the stand Thursday, Walker ordered jurors to a limited sequester, forbidding them to go to work until they are discharged from the case.

His move came after learning that one of the juror's employer threatened to dock pay because court broke Wednesday at about 2:30 p.m., and the juror did not report to work. Because of the speed of the trial, accommodating witness scheduling has sometimes required long lunches or early breaks.

"It is incomprehensible to me that the employer is punishing them for meeting their civic responsibility," said the incensed judge. "I think it is abhorrent."

Walker threatened to have his "friends in the green" — sheriff's deputies — haul employers who penalize jurors before him in court.


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