Closing arguments expected today in Kelly Thomas case

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Good morning:

Closing arguments are expected today in the Kelly Thomas case.

You can watch closing arguments via livestream right here.

The prosecution rested it’s rebuttal case yesterday after presenting the testimony of Dr. Matthew Budoff, the program director for cardiology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. According to Alfonso Flores of the LA Times, Dr. Budoff testified that,

CAT scans and X-rays of Thomas’ heart show no evidence of heart failure.

“He could’ve had some early stages of damage to his heart, but his heart was not weakened,” Budoff testified.

Thomas “would not have died of heart failure because his heart was still normal at this point,” he said.

In surrebuttal the defense recalled Dr. Steven Karch, a forensic pathologist who studies how drugs can affect the heart and cause death.

Here’s Flores’s description of his testimony,

Karch, who was called back to the stand Monday morning, previously testified that people who had a habit of using meth and then stopped taking it could still be affected years later.

On Monday he stuck to his previous testimony that Thomas’ meth abuse caused his heart to thicken and scar.

Thomas died of cardiac arrest because the damage to his heart didn’t allow it to function properly, Karch said.

“Is there anything in Dr. Budoff’s testimony that changes your opinion as to the cause of Kelly Thomas’ death?” asked John Barnett, Ramos’ attorney.
“No,” Karch said.

In his previous testimony, Karch wouldn’t say whether Thomas’ fight with police on July 5, 2011, caused his heart to fail but said it could be a possibility.

Karch and Budoff said they were being paid $750 an hour for their testimony. Karch was also paid $750 an hour to review files in the case and Budoff was paid $400.

As I said yesterday,

Previous testimony has established that he did not have any drugs in his system and that he was apologizing to officers and complaining that he could not breathe as they continued to sit on him and beat him with a baton and a taser.

The beating was recorded by a security camera.

Thomas went into a coma and died five days later in a hospital without regaining consciousness.

Manuel Ramos is charged with second degree murder and Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter. The former police officers were fired by the Fullerton Police Department after the incident.

I believe the defense has an uphill battle with this case because the videotape left no doubt in my mind that the officers beat him to death.

Although this case may seem like a battle of expert witnesses, California does recognize the eggshell skull principle that an actor takes his victim as he finds him and he cannot escape legal responsibility for his actions because he did not know that his victim was peculiarly susceptible to injury. In other words, even if the jury were to believe Dr. Kerch’s testimony that Kelly Thomas died from a weakened heart, that would not necessarily result in an acquittal. Depends on the specific wording in the jury instructions.

Presumably, the prosecution requested such an instruction.

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11 Responses to Closing arguments expected today in Kelly Thomas case

  1. I was right about the instruction. Jury was specifically ordered to disregard the testimony that defendants did not violate department policies. Statutes and instructions regarding the law are what matters.

  2. Lunch recess in progress.

    Probably will resume at 1 pm PST.

    I say probably because there was no announcement and judges usually limit lunch recess to 1 hour during trials.

  3. Difficult to listen to Kelly Thomas beg for his life.

  4. Prosecutor is explaining self-defense and arguing that Kelly Thomas’s only use of force was defensive and wholly provoked by defendant Ramos.

  5. You can watch closing arguments via livestream right here.

  6. bettykath says:

    We really need these guys to be found guilty. It might dampen the enthusiasm some cops have for beating people and for shooting them. The people need to take back our government and one of the ways is to declaw the police.

    • I agree.

      Literally getting away with murder, despite being captured on film committing the crime, would set a very bad precedent as well as to provide troubling evidence that jurors in media intensive cases have agendas. They see what they want to see and do not even make a pretense of maintaining impartiality.

      Our criminal justice system is in enough trouble without the added problem of ferreting out stealth jurors with hidden agendas.

  7. MDH says:

    At least the prosecution is doing its job by getting a medical professional who deals with saving lives to rebut a paid shill who only sees dead bodies.

    In the GZ trial, the prosecution did not bother to have a trauma expert testify.

    A trauma surgeon could have had a field day mocking the “horrific” injuries inflicted on GZ and would have made the “you got me” story told by GZ the stupid lie that only an idiot or racist would take seriously.

    I doubt that this would have made a difference in that the jury was clearly packed with idiots and racists.

    Anyhow, I hope that Kelly Thomas gets justice.

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