Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Trial - Day 8

Just before court began today's session, it was nice to watch the Marshals salivate over the gun rack that is in evidence in the court room. As I watched the Marshals admire the collection, I couldn't help but picture a bunch of robbers haggling over the spoils of a robbery. It seems everyone has a particular attraction to the AK that Danny had autographed by Ed Brown and Randy Weaver.

Before the jury was brought in, each of the defendants lawyers made and argued motions to dismiss. All were denied. The jury was brought in and the Prosecution rested its case.

The defense case began with Jason's lawyer entering into evidence 2 videos from Ed and Elaine Browns house from the July 2007 jamboree. One was a video which showed the scenes from the jamboree including families with children playing by the small pond near the house. It also showed Jason giving hamburgers to the police at the end of the driveway. The second video showed the homeland security helicopter buzzing dangerously low near the house. The prosecution objected to the sound on the video so the jury will get a copy without sound. Following this, Jason's defense rested.

Danny's lawyer, Sven Wiberg, called Marshal Stephen Monier to the stand. Monier was aware ahead of time that the operation on the 6/7/2007 was an operation to ambush and arrest Ed Brown at the mailbox. They had been conducting covert surveillance operations prior to that day. Marshal Monier was given broad latitude by the judge to go on long narrative explanations well beyond the scope of the question, consistently overruling defense objections. The Marshall had a trace of a smile when asked about whether Ed Brown had offered to come out if they would show the law, he denied that Ed made that offer. He explained that Danny was taken into custody because he had basically discovered their covert operation to arrest Ed. The Marshal kept reiterating to the jury how the Marshal service had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to ensure that nobody was hurt and that Ed Brown was taken into custody safely. (The ~50 heavily armed, special operations paramilitary police on the property were for safety??) He revealed that 2 armor personal carriers were nearby. He admitted he misled the public at the press conference following the incident and basically took advantage of all the police horse power assembled for the botched arrest attempt to instead serve the seizure warrants on the Brown's commercial property. He mentioned that he made a conscience decision to proceed with caution back on Jan 12, 2007 based on threatening statements Ed Brown had made. (The jury hasn't seen any actual threatening statements made by Ed, only hearsay at this point.)

A hearing followed on whether to allow a fellow inmate Josh McLellan, that was in max with Danny and Anthony Dorothy, to testify and impeach Dorothy. McLellan took the 5th and the judge would not grant any limited immunity. McLellan had overheard conversations between Danny and Dorothy while in max and would contest Dorothy's testimony. Because of this the jury will not hear any testimony from McLellan. Following this, Danny's defense rested.

Reno's defense called Charles (Mike) Hearington to the stand. Mr. Hearington testified that he met Reno at a "Media Reform" conference in Memphis, Tn. Reno provided security for a political protest in which the "chain gang" puppet heads of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice marched down Beale street in Memphis. One of the protest members was attacked and an altercation ensued. Reno acted to protect the protesters and break up the altercation and no one was hurt in the incident. They met again in Washington, DC at a Veterans for Peace rally against the Iraq war. They then met again at a 2007 Easter weekend rally and fund raiser for Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey in Crawford, Tx. Reno and Mr. Hearington drove from Texas to Memphis and Reno mentioned that he was heading up to the Brown's in New Hampshire after dropping Mr. Hearington off in Memphis. He described Reno as a "peaceful and just person". On cross examination, the prosecution brandished a 50cal weapon from the exhibits in front of the witness and asked "would this change your opinion of Mr Gonzales's peacefulness?" Mr. Hearington responded "not necessarily, it's not illegal to own a weapon." This testimony came out in spite of the prosecution's repeated objections and numerous side bar arguments. Which was in stark contrast to Marshal Monier's wide latitude and rambling narrative answers that the judge allowed over repeated defense objections.

The next witness called was Nebeil Al-Oboudi. Mr. Al-Oboudi is a construction worker from the Houston area. He met Reno at the 2007 Easter rally in Crawford Texas. They became "strong" friends over the course of the 3 day rally and talked extensively of continuing peace activism. Mr. Al-Oboudi described Reno as a person who had "seen hell (in Iraq) and was trying to explain it to people who were blind." His opinion was that Reno was a peaceful person. On cross, again the prosecution brandished a 50cal weapon in front of the witness and asked "would a peaceful person own this weapon?" Mr. Al-Oboudi paused for 15 seconds then answered "I don't judge a man by the weapons he owns but by the content of his heart and his actions" (best quote of the trial). Again, this testimony was frequently interrupted by prosecution objections and side bar arguments with the judge heavily limiting the ability of the witness to answer questions.

End of day 8.

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