59th/Admiral shooting trial: Jury deliberations begin

gavel.jpgJury deliberations have begun in the trial of the Alki 18-year-old charged with murdering the 33-year-old man he says sexually abused him for years. This is the third week of the trial that WSB is covering, start to finish, as followup to our initial coverage of the 10/13/07 shooting (and updates in the ensuing months); read on for the latest report from our courtroom correspondent:

By Rachel Gabrielle
West Seattle Blog contributing reporter

The jury in the 59th/Admiral shooting trial will resume deliberations tomorrow.

They began deliberating today after closing arguments on behalf of the state and the defendant, an Alki 18-year-old who WSB is not identifying because of the contention of childhood sexual abuse. Both sides provided summaries of what we had heard leading up to this point, each emphasizing any crucial evidence and testimony that may prove its side of the case.

The state, which gets the first and last word, reviewed evidence and witness testimony showing why they think this case was not one of self-defense, and that the defendant acted with intent to kill 33-year-old Francisco Bailey-Ortiz.

Prosecutor Don Raz admitted that this is a “hard case,” since the State has conceded the sexual abuse and it’s not a matter of “who done it.” He reminded the jurors that they were picked based on their ability to compartmentalize their personal feelings and make their decision based on the law.

Raz said that for this to be a justifiable homicide, the defendant would have to have believed that Bailey-Ortiz intended to inflict death or serious injury, and that he himself was in imminent danger. He argued that because there was no gun found at the scene or at Bailey-Ortiz’s residence, the defendant was not in imminent danger and that it couldn’t have been self-defense, because in his own sick way, Bailey-Ortiz “loved” the defendant and wouldn’t kill the center/focus of his life.

The prosecutor also told the jury that the defendant’s testimony was not credible for a number of reasons, a solid one being that he really didn’t need to run the approximately two miles from 59th/Admiral to Seacrest Pier to get rid of the gun used in the shooting by throwing it in the water, when he could have walked just a few blocks to get to Alki Beach. But a not-so-solid reason to question the credibility of the defendant’s testimony, Raz said, was that the defendant used the word “sodomy” in his testimony and that a person his age (18) wouldn’t use a word a like that.

This being their last time to address the jury, the defense team, headed by Robert Perez, gave a longer statement.

Perez reminded the jury that when Officer Larkin asked Bailey-Ortiz who shot him, he said “I don’t know,” when the evidence shows he did know. Perez compared the thorough CSI investigation done of the intersection and car by Detective Haakenstad, to the not-so-thorough investigation detectives did of Bailey-Ortiz’s residence, in which no DNA evidence was taken.

The defense recapped most of the witnesses that were called by each side, trying to underscore their contention, that this was indeed an act of self defense, that it was justifiable, and that the defendant had no intent to kill.

Perez spent the most time reminding jurors of Dr. Conte’s testimony and what he had said about Battered Child Syndrome. Perez said it was the little things that the defendant did that showed he was reaching out for help – things like cutting himself, drinking constantly and not trying to hide it, and his suicidal thoughts that were no secret to friends and family.

The defense wanted the jury to see that no one ever helped or stood up for the defendant and that because of what he endured from the age of 12, he had a different perception of imminent danger than the average person, one of the many things under the umbrella of Battered Child Syndrome described as hypervigilance. The defense told jurors that by surrendering to police, the defendant’s credibility is not in question, and urged them not to confuse it with naivete, likening the situation to that of a battered woman who goes back to an abusive husband.

To conclude, Perez told the jurors that their vote in this case will matter more than any other vote they ever make. With that, he reminded jurors once more that no one, not family, not friends, not law enforcement ever stood up for the defendant and is now being blamed for the abuse he endured, saying, “Please, become his voice.” Most of the courtroom spectators and some of the jurors were in tears by the end of Robert Perez’s closing statement.

With the last word, the state had a quick followup to the defense, saying that the defendant acted in anger and embarrassment, not self defense. The prosecutor went on to say that detectives never had reason to collect DNA evidence from Bailey-Ortiz’s residence and closed with “It’s a real test of character to stand up for someone you don’t like or are disgusted by.”

Though the trial had not been in session on previous Fridays, this week will be an exception, and jurors will continue deliberations tomorrow.

Previous coverage:
10/13/07: Day-of coverage of the shooting
10/13/08: Trial begins
10/16/08: Jury selection continues
10/20/08: Jury seated
10/21/08: Testimony begins
10/22/08: Testimony continues
10/23/08: Prosecution rests its case
10/27/08: Defendant takes the stand

10/28/08: Defendant’s family testifies
10/29/08: Testimony concludes

10 Replies to "59th/Admiral shooting trial: Jury deliberations begin"

  • L. I. October 30, 2008 (11:43 pm)

    The comparison between a battered wife that goes back again and again to an abusive husband is a fitting one. In the same way that a battered wife naively believes her abuser will change or become a better person, a battered child (beatings and sexual abuse) can believe that one day their abuser will change, and will end the abuse. In the same way that a battered wife is terrified to leave a violent husband because of threats he might make to her life or safety, a battered child who is being threatened with exposure of the abuse and was terrified of the shame it would bring upon him would be manipulated into not reporting the abuse and escaping.

    Battered womens’ syndrome was the original focus of research into the psychological and physiological responses of abuse victims when doctors tried to answer the common flippantly asked question, “Well, if it was so bad, why didn’t she just leave?” (In essence, this ends up blaming the victim for the abuse they suffered, expresses to them that they were complicit in their abuse, and if they had acted more proactively to escape sooner, they wouldn’t have ever had to defend themselves against their assailant.) Because to a normal person without a history of abuse, it makes no sense for someone to stay in a relationship or association that is causing them grave physical harm, doctors investigated what processes had to take place in order for people to be immobilized from escaping abuse. Learned helplessness, hypervigilance, low-self esteem, depression, suicidality, disassociation, flat affect, and substance abuse are textbook symptoms of someone suffering from Battered Person Syndrome. Though battered wives were the original focus, scientists soon realized that it was not only women who suffered from the syndrome, but also children. Also important to note that “battering” does not just mean physical beatings; it is also inclusive of sexual abuse (both of which were present in the case at hand.)

  • L. I. October 31, 2008 (12:04 am)

    Also, I have to add — great reporting.

    Prosecutor Raz’s argument that someone as young as the defendant wouldn’t know a word like “sodomy” because of his age is an obvious implication that the boy is making up those specific allegations of that form of abuse. Not only is this insulting to the defendant’s intelligence, but also highly ignorant to the reality of the boy’s life. If you are the victim of years of sexual abuse, you DO, unfortunately, know words like “sodomy”. (To be fair, if you watch crime shows on television, you know words like “sodomy.”)

    Also important to note, which Prosecutor Raz seemed wholly ignorant of, a male victim of sexual abuse at the hands of another male feels extreme shame and disgust at the particular acts, and it makes complete sense that instead of going into gory details on the stand in front of family and many strangers, would prefer to use a euphemism instead. If the boy had instead gone into detail about that particular act of abuse, I can easily envision Prosecutor Raz accusing him of being sensationalist, and attempting to play on the juror’s emotions!

    Someone dissasociating from the abuse would verly likely speak of it in clinical, robotic terms. A victim of abuse would very likely prefer to use general euphemisms that don’t require him to relive the trauma he suffered from the abuse again and again. It actually works against the Prosecutor’s case, and was a petty, cheap attack.

    Victims of sexual abuse are almost always doubted and called liars. I found the following very interesting: although the evidence that Francisco Bailey-Ortiz molested the defendant was so overwhelmingly obvious that even Prosecutor Raz had to admit it as fact in his closing, Raz still found a way to question the defendant’s very real history of abuse, and deny the boy’s allegations in the next breath.

    It takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to begin a closing argument admitting that the Prosecution cannot deny that the defendant suffered child sexual abuse at the hands of a sick and dangerous man, and then shortly after, question the victim’s credibility and call him a liar because someone his age could not possibly have an advanced enough vocabulary to know the words he used to describe his abuse.

  • indaknow October 31, 2008 (7:45 am)

    What a crock about a teenager not knowing or using the word “sodomy”. If I was in this situation, it would certainly be the word to use instead of describing the action or using slang. I learned the meaning of the word as a young teenager after hearing a song on the soundtrack of “Hair”!!

  • acemotel October 31, 2008 (8:36 am)

    Thanks so much for the great coverage of this sad story. My prayers are with this young man. I hope he can get some intensive therapy to recover some of those lost years and reclaim his life.

  • Rachel Gabrielle October 31, 2008 (9:15 am)

    Yes, and I mean, if you’ve ever read or studied the bible even, or taken a class in religion, you might know that word…I like the Hair Soundtrack reference though! Good to know.

  • Ms Pam October 31, 2008 (10:23 am)

    I hope that the jury “does the right thing” and allow this poor young man to move on with his life and begin healing (if possible)and hopefully get the chance at a normal life.

  • Shadow October 31, 2008 (8:53 pm)

    I hadn’t heard anything about this case before but read through the coverage provided here and found it interesting. How could this boy’s parents have been so clueless for so long? And was there any testimony/evidence that the victim/abuser in fact had a criminal history and instances of prior deportations as a result? I just don’t know about this. Pardon my skepticism but I think there’s something too pat, too contrived, making it too easy to take at face value the defendant’s story without some independent confirmation of events reported.

  • Robert Perez October 31, 2008 (11:04 pm)

    There was plenty of evidence to support the defense. The decedent was in fact a deported felon and had a half-dozen aliases, each of which had its own series of criminal histories. This was not information found by the defense, but information obtained by police during their investigation. The jury certainly did not take the case “at face value” but examined all of the evidence critically and thoroughly. Prosecutor Raz is no push over and you can be assured that he would not have conceded as he did the history of abuse without strong evidence that it was factual.

    The sad fact is the predatory child molesters are expert at finding vulnerable victims and keeping their activities secret from (in this case, the separated) parents. I don’t blame you for being skeptical, but I hope you can trust that your fellow citizens, equally skeptical, did their best to listen to the evidence presented and base their decision on the facts. Although the case has obvious emotional appeal, anyone sitting in the courtroom during my closing arguments can verify that I presented the facts and the evidence, and that’s what resulted in the verdict.

  • Donna Larsen November 1, 2008 (8:54 am)

    Francisco’s own brother told police that Francisco used to brag about his sexual relationship with the defendant and told him 1. That they had been married and 2. That they were going to move in together. This bragging started when the defendant was around 14. Asked by the police if he didn’t find it disturbing since the defendant was so young the brother said the unbelievable statement, “I though he looked around 18.” All of this information is in the police report.

    This evidence didn’t get to come in since the prosecution decided not to call Francisco’s brother and since he lived in California he could not be forced via subpoena to testify.

  • L.I. November 2, 2008 (1:36 pm)

    “Shadow”, in case you don’t have an understanding of the criminal justice system, attorneys are not allowed by the court to allege unsupported, unverified facts and did not do so in this case. As Mr. Perez mentions above, each of Francisco Bailey-Ortiz’ aliases had criminal histories, and he was a registered felon with the FBI. These facts were not contested by the prosecution, because they could not be contested.

    Why so much doubt about a molester having a significant criminal history? You ask for “independent confirmation of events” as if that was not the centerpiece of a trial in our court system. Mr. Perez presented fact after fact to support the defense’s argument. There was never the need to “appeal to emotion” because the facts of the case speak for themselves.

Sorry, comment time is over.