Jury 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.
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