Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Closing arguments in US v. Steven D. Green sentencing this morning

For the prosecution, Jim Lesousky called a single rebuttal witness, as previously predicted. Dr. Helen Mayberg, a clinical neurologist at Emory University, was called; Dr. Ruben Gur was also listening via muted phone so as to hear what her response to his testimony would be.
Mayberg was called to respond to the testimony of Gur. She told the court of her medical degree from USC and of her certification in neurology. Her testimony did not last nearly as long as Gurs. She told the jury that "testing one person deemed possibly mentally disabled...against a control group of forty-one 'healthy' people, would not always produce accurate results." She told the court that she did not note the same variations within Green's MRI that Dr. Gur previously testified to the jury. She also testified that in Gur's study of the forty one "healthy" subjects, they were tested using MRI's of a 1.5 tesla strenth, as well as two other measurements/settings that were to equal or be set to "one;" she told the jury when Gur reviewed Green's MRI, he failed to notice that his MRI was given at a 3.0 tesla strength, and that the two other aformentioned settings were also different, meaning that Green's MRI would not have matched the control group results regardless. For the most part, the defense has been excellent, but if they've ever suffered a setback, this would be it.

The above is from Evan Bright's "Calm Before The Storm," reporting on the sentence hearing of Steven D. Green who was convicted two Thursdays ago in the gang-rape of 14-year-old Iraqi Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, her murder, the murder of her five-year-old sister and the murders of both of her parents.

Steven D. Green
Since then, the jury has been hearing testimony they will weigh when determining his sentencing. Green could receive the death penalty; however, all 12 jurors would have to vote to sentence him to death. If that does not happen, he is facing life in prison. Bright notes the defense and the prosecution offer closing statements this morning and that the jury then goes into deliberation. Today will be day seven of the sentence hearing. The trial itself took only eight days.

It's a shame the defense didn't attempt to fight their case in the trial itself. It's a shame the defense thought you snow ball the jury during the sentencing phase with a bunch of 'experts' you never put on the witness stand before. It's a shame that yesterday Marissa Ford did what any solid prosecutor would: Go after the weakest 'expert' the defense offered.

Due to a variety of factors, the prosecution gave the defense free reign in their witnesses during the sentencing. They could toss anyone up on the witness stand -- and did -- who would cry and offer a few details -- often contradicting the last crier -- and the prosecution didn't rip them apart. Didn't point out inconsistencies. The defense should have grapsed that was happening and they honestly should have expected it. A crying coach, teacher, family member is not someone the prosecution wants to treat to a rough cross. What's the point?

The jury's already found Green guilty on all counts, there's no gain for the prosecution who, if they go after a personal testimony witness, risks looking 'out of control' or seeking 'vengence' and not justice.

So the defense could tell the jury any thing through these witnesses and should have.

But they didn't grasp that.

They wanted to have their 'experts' even though 'experts' are for when determining guilt. During the sentencing, the defense's role is not to argue guilt or innocence (that's been determined), it's to humanize their client so their client receives a less harsh sentence.

The defense tossed 'experts' on stage who sounded like idiots frequently and the bulk of whom didn't know Green. They tried to snow ball the jury. They tried to throw everything possible up and hope that something would stick. That wasn't smart for two reasons.

First, Ford called a rebuttal witness to the weakest 'expert' and the jury was informed that the 'expert' didn't know the basics about a control group. AP's Brett Barrouquere quotes Dr. Helen Mayberg testifying yesterday, "He [Green] was done differently. It's no big surprise that there are some areas that look different." That's rather damaging and rather damning for the defense. If the jury makes an issue of it (and they may or may not), it discredits every 'expert' the defense had on the stand. If they were stupid enough to put up an 'expert' who didn't know what the hell he was talking about (a fact obvious from his testimony which is why Marisa Ford went after him specifically, he was the weakest), it makes their other 'experts' suspect.

Before we get to the second point, we'll note this from Dave Alsup's CNN report:

Dr. Helen Mayberry, a clinical neurologist from Emory University, testified for the prosecution, questioning at length the scientific methods of a doctor who testified for the defense -- as jurors looked at scans of Green's brain and a bailiff dozed in the back of the courtroom.
A week earlier, Dr. Rubin Gur of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine compared Green's brain scan to 41 others, saying his was significantly different than the others and possibly showed signs of one large or several small head injuries.

Second, all that time wasted on 'experts,' should have been used for personal testimony. Ford wasn't going after personal testimony. The defense should have pushed that and they should have been organized every time they called a witness. Instead, they acted as if they were on a fishing expedition, as though they'd never spoken to the witnesses (that they were calling to the stand) before. It was the most meandering testimonies in the world and when a significant point managed to emerge, the defense didn't emphasize it and didn't develop it.

The jury is supposed to begin deliberating the sentencing today. All 12 jurors have to vote on the death penalty for Green to be sentenced to it.

On today's Democracy Now!, Amy devotes the hour to torture. But refuses to go where it needs to (the continued torture Jeremy Scahill was talking about yesterday) -- offering less than one minute on the military tribunals proposed by Barry O is not a 'discussion' -- and she refuses to close her mouth when Jane Mayer is attempting to answer a question Goodman asked.

Last night's community posts?

That's from Stan's site. Wally's post was left off yesterday. Charlie e-mailed to note that. Wally would be left off this morning if Charlie hadn't e-mailed. I start at above the Iraq snapshot and copy and paste. Wally posted last night. It's not there. His post is "THIS JUST IN! SEPARATE VACATIONS!" -- joint-post with Cedric. Cedric's is up. But it shows Wally hasn't posted in a day. That's incorrect and I have no idea what Blogger/Blogspot's problem is. Charlie asked why I hadn't included Wally yesterday morning? I thought I had. That's why he's included in the tags below "the e-mail address for this . . ." Thank you to Charlie for catching it. Again, I just copy and paste it from Stan's site. It's a Blogger/Blogspot issue and I'll try to pay attention to it in the future when noting the evening posts.

The e-mail address for this site is

brett barrouquere
dave alsup

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends