59th/Admiral shooting trial update: Closing arguments tomorrow

October 29, 2008 7:02 pm
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 |   Crime | West Seattle news

gavel.jpgTestimony is over in the trial of the Alki 18-year-old charged with murdering the 33-year-old man he says sexually abused him for years. WSB is covering the trial, start to finish; read on for the latest report from our courtroom correspondent:

By Rachel Gabrielle
West Seattle Blog contributing reporter

The defense called its last two witnesses today, wrapping up its side of the case in the shooting that killed 33-year-old Francisco Bailey-Ortiz in a car at 59th and Admiral on October 13, 2007. (WSB is not identifying the 18-year-old defendant because of the contention he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.)

Today’s first witness was a 19-year-old man and former classmate of the defendant who said that the two were/are close friends. Like the witnesses yesterday, this friend testified that he knew the defendant had a good reputation and had never seen him with a gun. This witness had also never met or heard of Bailey-Ortiz.

The witness testified he had seen the defendant get upset whenever he read about child abuse in the newspaper, which happened to be quite often because they shared a class together in which they had to read the newspaper every morning and discuss it later. The witness said he knew it affected the defendant. Since they were close friends, it seemed natural that the defendant got sad when his friend told him of his plan to move to Hawaii. The witness recalls the defendant saying, “Why is it that whenever I get close to someone, they always leave?”

On the night of October 13, 2007, the witness received a frantic call from the defendant. The call was made after the shooting (which happened in the afternoon), and after the defendant and his mother had talked to their lawyer and returned home. The witness testified that he couldn’t make much sense of what the defendant was saying, but that he’d never heard him sound like that, so he rushed over to his then-17-year-old friend’s Alki-area apartment.

The defendant met him outside; the witness remembers him as being hysterical. As they drove around the block, and the defendant eventually told his friend about some of the abuse and the shooting earlier in the day. According to a transcript of a previous interview with the prosecutor, the witness said that in the car the defendant had said, “I shot someone and I’m going to go to prison.” In the car, the radio was on, and the witness remembers hearing that a man who was shot in West Seattle had been taken to Harborview Medical Center.

The second witness was forensic scientist Chesterene Cwiklik. Cwiklik formerly worked for the Washington State Crime Laboratory, but has been in private practice for about the last 15 years and was retained by the defense for this case. She is FBI-trained, specializing in trace evidence/particles.

Cwiklik says she did a lot of the same things the CSI Unit did, though a few months later: She visited the scene of the shooting, inspected the vehicle, reviewed the autopsy report, and examined items that the detectives collected. During her testimony, she said there is evidence to believe that the gun’s muzzle was about three feet away from Bailey-Ortiz when it was fired, due to the traces of gunpowder and particles she found.

She also said there was no indication that there were more than three shots fired, though no one has been able to recover a third bullet. Cwiklik was also presented with computer-modeled photos, prepared by her direction, that suggest the position Bailey-Ortiz might have been in when he was shot. This is important to the defense because the defendant had said he thought Bailey-Ortiz was reaching under the seat for a gun at the time of the shooting – though no such gun was never found.

The photos depicted a range of possibilities, but there is no way to know for sure what Bailey-Ortiz’s arm was doing. To end Cwiklik’s testimony, the defense asked her how she knew what would be helpful to take from a crime scene in order to do an investigation. She replied, “If you’re in doubt, take it.” This was made in reference to the fact that the detectives on this case testified that they did not take any DNA evidence from Bailey-Ortiz’s residence, something that the defense contends could have been essential to understanding a case like this one.

With that, the defense rested its case. Closing arguments are expected tomorrow morning, and jurors will be given their formal instructions.

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

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