Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Prosecution Rests

The "State" rested it's case yesterday.  

The videotaped interrogation of Crystal was shown to the jury.  It showed a woman in extreme pain from having had a lumbar puncture 36 - 48 hours earlier.  Since she had been arrested Crystal had not had access to her pain medication.  The tape lasted over half an hour or more.  At the beginning Crystal screams/moans loudly out of pain, is then interrogated, and at the end of the tape gets up bent over in pain and asks for help.  What happened in between was all done while she was in pain.  

The interrogator was a woman who told Crystal she just wanted to get her side of the story...just like on Law & Order.  Crystal told her how she and Milton got in an argument.  Milton was upset that Crystal and the kid weren't doing enough around the house.  The argument built up to Crystal asking if Milton wanted out of the relationship.  This set Milton off who started hitting her in the face and choking her from behind.  The kids were jumping on Milton and hitting him.  Milton left the house.  Somewhere in there the 911 call was made.

When the cops arrived they came right in the house and immediately threw Crystal to the floor and handcuffed her though she repeatedly told them she'd just had a lumbar puncture on her back and was in pain.  There were many things that contradicted what the police had said earlier.

Then Officer Silla got on the stand and further contradicted what Officers Thompson and Tyler had said happened.  

The defense attorney continued to note objections to many things so that they were reserved for the appeal process should things go that far.

Today there should be two or three witnesses for the defense.  That means things will probably wrap up this afternoon or tomorrow morning.  Then it goes to the jury.

Here's are the things that I think the jury will have to deal with most:

1. Which of the cops are telling the truth. Was Milton in the house or outside when Silla arrived?  Where was everyone standing when Silla arrived?  Did Silla help wrestle Crystal to the floor or was she already prone when he got there?  These were all important parts of the prosecutions case. Silla says Milton was standing at the door with his hand raised over his head (as in a "stick 'em up" pose) facing out.  Officer Tyler said he had sat Milton down in a folding chair in the living room and that's where he was when Officer Silla arrived. 

2. Who actually lit the fire?  If Crystal did it then when exactly did she have the chance to do it since she was being watched every minute?  If the fire was set earlier how come there was no smoke in the house when the cops got there?  And where did that mysterious cigarette lighter come from? It wasn't there the night of the incident but it showed up in the pictures taken sometime later?  Also, if Crystal was going back and forth loading clothes into the bath tub why didn't they stop her and how is it they didn't see that she was feeding a fire?

3. Why didn't the cops arrest Milton?  This doesn't strictly go to charges in the case but if I were on the jury it would weigh on my mind and make me doubt the credibility of the police version of what happened?  How come the prosecution didn't even address Milton's role in the whole incident?  It Takes Two To Tango, right?

4.Why, when it was clear that Crystal was in pain, did the interrogator not stop and see to it that she was taken care of properly?  During the interrogation Crystal gave an account of what happened.  The interrogator countered with questions that seemed to suggest that she thought Crystal had lit the fire.  At one point Crystal even says "Are you trying to get me to say that I lit the fire?"  Soon after that, with her head back and clearly in pain the interrogator restates the things that happened and then says "So, that's when you lit the fire, right?" Crystal, looking like she was in pain with her head back like she was stretching out her back and trying to get comfortable, that's when Crystal in a very soft voice says "Yes".  The interrogator doesn't ask how she lit the fire, with a match or a lighter, or where the cops were at the time...nothing more.  That's the entire "confession".  

5.  One of the elements of the charge of arson is that the crime only occurs if the accused intended to set the house on fire.  Even if you buy all the malarkey the cops are trying to sell then the jury must decide if Crystal (if she lit the fire) intended to burn the structure.

6.  Crystal, on the videotape, talked about how the kids were doing their homework.  Milton, earlier in the evening took one of the kids and went and got "Papa John's" pizza for dinner and the argument started about who was doing the housework or not.  This all sounds like a regular stable household to me?  So, what would lead anyone to think that a mother that takes that kind of care with her kids would set a fire in the bathtub and endanger the kids, herself, and anybody else in the area?  It just doesn't track.

7. As far as I can recall there hasn't been any evidence introduced in front of the jury that speaks to Milton Walker's mental condition except for one statement that Crystal makes on the videotape. Referring to who might have damaged the car in the driveway she says "Milton probably/might have done it.  He gets real crazy sometimes and just goes off" (That was an approximation of what she said).  Maybe today or tomorrow there can be something introduced to show that Milton, and this is true, carries a diagnosis of Paranoid Schizophrenia.  Immediately after this whole incident Mr. Walker spent about two month on the Psych ward at the Durham Veteran's Administration Hospital across from Duke North.

That's all I can think of at the moment.  I'm sure I'll have more after today.

Steven Matherly
Durham, NC

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