Monday, September 05, 2005

Jury Duty: Day Two, Part One

Crazy J texted me mid-day with requests for more jury duty info.

Day Two brought the conclusion of the Defendant's opening remarks and the beginning of the State's witnesses and the exhibits that came with them. The first witness is someone I referred to in my notes as the "911 guy." He's a retired police officer who was working as the temporary manager of the 911 dispatch center on the night of the alleged assault. Two 911 calls came in that night and both were heard in court. The 911 guy was there to play the tapes, help the prosecution introduce the tapes and corresponding transcripts into evidence and essentially explain how the whole 911 thing works.

The first 911 call came from the Defendant's next door neighbor. Their apartments share a wall. In the tape she stated she was calling to report "domestic violence," that she could hear a man yelling "I'm going to hit you, I'm going to f*cking hit you again," a woman crying and screaming and as the phone call was being made, she told the dispatcher she just heard him hit her.

The 2nd 911 call came from within the apartment where the assault took place. A man called to say there was a woman there in need of help. She had too much to drink, but was not forthcoming when asked if she needed an ambulance. When asked what his name was, he said "Fred." Both recordings were entered into evidence as State's exhibits 1 & 2.

While the interview of the 911 guy by the prosecutor was pretty straight forward, the cross examination by the defendant was where the jury began to see his attempts to rewrite what happened that night. Up until this point, we don't technically know who the man that called 911 was, just that it was a man from that apartment. The defendant wanted us to know it was him. This proved tricky because counsel can't testify during questioning. He tried to say, "it was me that called," but that immediately brought objections from the prosecution. And since the 911 guy doesn't know him and was never at the scene, he just had to keep repeating himself over and over saying "It sounds like a man and the call came from this address. That is all I know." Now, Fred is not the defendant's name. He asked the 911 guy, "Is it possible that the man on the phone said 'A friend' when asked his name?". The 911 guy said, "No it sounds like Fred." The Defendant tried over and over to get the witness to testify that the transcription may not be inaccurate, but the witness didn't take the bait, simply saying "If I wasn't certain what was said, I would have put 'inaudible' on the transcript. I'm not going to guess at what is being said." And indeed, there were portions of the recordings where static drowns out the voices and the transcripts did say [inaudible] in those places. I think the Defendant wanted us to know that it was him that called 911 because he thought it would show concern for her well-being. But whether he answered "Fred" or "A Friend" he was evading the question, which is suspect behavior from a supposedly innocent man. I'll get into more detail later about his version of events, but suffice to say for now that his 911 calls mention nothing of the events he later described in court.

The next witness was Cop #1. Cop #1 was actually last on the scene that night, but testified first because she interviewed the neighbor that called 911. She saw very little of the scene in the Defendant's apartment aside from him in handcuffs talking to Cop #3 and the victim being attended to by Cop#2. She presented State's exhibit 3, a transcript of the recorded statement she took from the neighbor. In the statement the neighbor repeats what she heard through the wall that prompted her to call 911. The Defendant also cross examined Cop#1, but the only close to meaningful thing he got her to say was that she was not an eye witness to what happened between him and the victim. This would be a recurring theme from him: That only 2 people really know what happened that night and that the victim (in his opinion) can't remember clearly.

The next witness of Day Two was the neighbor herself. Lucky her, she still lives next door to the defendant. Having called 911 0n him, testified against him and been cross examined by him, I think I'd want to move if I was her. And here I was just uncomfortable being a juror. She corroborated the state's exhibits and described how she met the police in the apartment lobby and led them to the Defendant's apartment. The defendant also questioned her and got her to admit she only heard things through a wall and did not see what happened. He also asked her if she ever heard music coming from his apartment. She had. He asked her if she remembered hearing music from his apartment that night. She did not. This would be important to his defense later when the whole issue of the stereo came up. Turns out his stereo played an integral role in everything that happened that night...

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