Monday, July 23, 2012

Wednesday (7/18): Opening Statements, Prosecution’s 1st Witnesses

Before the opening statements, the judge gave instructionsto the jurors. They were long and repetitive: don’t talk to anyone about thetrial, don’t form an opinion until you have heard all of the evidence, avoidwitnesses and others involved in the trial. All of these things would be hardfor anyone to do. Finally, both attorneys made opening statements. The DA’s wasbrief and not flashy. He quickly ran through the evidence that would show Galomade an unsafe turn at an intersection, resulting in the death of a young manon a motorcycle. The public defender (PD) made a more emotional appeal to thejury. This “tragic incident” was merely “an accident.” Galo, along with hiswife and two kids were on their way to “good parenting class to learn how to begood parents.” Considering an 8-10 year old would show up to court with thewife a few days later, I seriously doubt this class was voluntary. Who goes togood parenting class 8 years into being a parent just for the hell of it?

The first witness took the stand and proceeded to explainhis perspective of the incident. He sat at the intersection on 16thStreet due East and got a pretty good view of the collision. Galo came in onhis right while Drew was heading down Harrison on his left.  He testified that he saw Galo entering theintersection “at a pretty good speed” and without the courtesy of a blinkerbegan to make a sharp, unprotected left -- right into the path of Drew and his bike. He then testified that heimmediately ran out of the car, yelling at Galo to stop because there wassomebody under his car. With the help of others at the scene, he lifted the carwhile his wife, who would testify next, pulled Drew out from under the car. Whatwas clear from his testimony was that Galo made an unsafe turn without regard tooncoming traffic.

The second witness gave testimony that was much moreriveting. She would refer to Drew by his name and not as “the victim.” Thismade it hard for me, my father, and Drew’s friends who were present to hear. Wehad to hope that feeling of personality was shared by the jurors as well. Thiswoman was with the first witness and saw a little bit less of the actualcollision. What she lacked in initial observation she more than made up for indetail about what happened next. Having advanced training in CPR among otherthings, she told the jury she had a legal obligation to assist somebody inmedical need. She rushed out of the car screaming and ran around Galo’s car,banging on it with her hands to get them to stop moving. She got under the car,afraid for her own life because Galo hadn’t completely stopped yet, to helpDrew. The car was lifted and she pulled Drew out from under it (noting that shetook precaution in case of spinal injury). She assessed Drew and stayed withhim until the paramedics arrive. In more detailed terms, she indicated that sheknew at the time he was not in good condition but stayed with him nonetheless.A small aside from this summary – this woman is an absolute saint among certainevil. She even at one point said, “I felt like I knew Drew.” Her testimonyalong with her fiancée’s was strong and set the pace for the rest of the week.   

A third witness, a young woman who was standing on a cornerat the intersection, gave strong testimony as well. She indicated much of thesame story. Drew was well into the intersection while Galo made absolutely noattempt to stop, slow down, or turn with any care at all. He also had noheadlights or turn signals on. According to her the car may have even sped intothe intersection, perhaps to beat the yellow light. This poor woman couldbarely get through her own testimony without choking up. A fourth witness wasriding a bicycle heading in the same direction as Drew. He indicated that hehad been keeping pace with Drew for at least two blocks, meaning Drew could nothave possibly been speeding. While his story of the incident was slightlydifferent (a large SUV obstructed most of his view of the collision), histestimony didn’t seem confusing or contradicting. At any rate, nothing came outthat would place any fault on Drew ordetract any fault from Galo.

In fact, every piece of testimony heard so far indicatedthat Galo was at fault. It was emotional and even disturbing at times, but forour case at least it seemed that everything was going smoothly. During crossexaminations the PD only made his case worse. His method of questioning waspoor. He asks questions in a painfully slow manner, to the point where you haveforgotten what the entire question was by the time he’s reached the end.Witnesses repeatedly asked him to repeat or clarify his grammar error riddenquestions and some replied very condescendingly. 

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