Skip to comments.Evidence Ties Dem Campaigners to Slashed Tires: Prosecutor (WI)
Posted on 01/20/2006 6:28:45 AM PST by Diana in Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE, WI (AP) -- Witness testimony and cell phone records tie five Democratic presidential campaign workers to criminal damage at a Bush-Cheney office, a prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments Thursday.
The five defendants, including the sons of a congresswoman and former mayor, are accused of puncturing tires on 25 vehicles to be used by Republicans to get out the vote on Nov. 2, 2004.
The jury will return Friday after it did not reach a verdict after deliberating a little over two hours.
Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Feiss told jurors that testimony from several national Democratic campaign workers brought to Milwaukee showed the defendants acted together to cause the damage and then were heard talking about the vandalism once back at the Democratic office the morning of the election.
"If the defendants had not gone back and bragged to their co-workers, they might have gotten away with it," Feiss said.
Defense attorney Rodney Cubbie attempted to raise doubts about the credibility of the national operatives' testimony, which blamed the defendants, saying each of the witnesses lied to investigators, some more than once.
"These guys got blamed because they're convenient, that's why they got blamed," he said.
The defendants face up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of criminal damage to property.
One of the defendants, Sowande A. Omokunde, is the son of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, and another, Michael Pratt, is the son of former acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt.
Also charged were Lewis Caldwell and Lavelle Mohammad, both from Milwaukee, and Justin Howell of Racine.
Feiss argued that cell phone records place two of the defendants, Pratt and Mohammad, near the scene of the vandalism at the GOP campaign office about the time the crime occurred.
But, Cubbie countered that there are limits as to what those records show because the calls, based on cell tower activity, could have been made within a three-mile radius.
Craig Mastantuono, the attorney for Caldwell, further attacked the credibility of testimony from the national campaign workers sent to Milwaukee in the waning days of the close race in Wisconsin.
"You can consider all of them to be liars," Mastantuono told jurors. Investigators and prosecutors were intent on blaming the five defendants, even though there was evidence the national operatives may have been at fault.
"The evidence will point the finger, and it's away from these men and toward others," he said.
During rebuttal, Feiss said the national campaign workers for Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry wouldn't put their careers on the line by fabricating a story.
"What you're asked to believe is that these people are idiots," Feiss said.
Moore said outside the courtroom she was even more convinced of her son's innocence after she listened to the trial, which lasted almost two weeks.
The state Republican Party rented more than 100 vehicles that were parked in a lot next to the George Bush campaign office to give rides to voters and poll monitors on Election Day.
The five were charged criminally because damage totaled more than $5,300, which is beyond the $2,500 threshold for criminal damage, prosecutors said.
Kerry won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes in a close race, defeating President Bush by fewer than 12,000 votes among about 3 million cast.
"Possible Verdict Today on The Milwaukee Five" Ping.
Yep. And over 10,000 of the 12,000 votes cast in Milwaukee County have been proven to be fraudulent. Evenly split between dead people, felons and homeless people with no permanent address. *Rolleyes*
But you're right...if Gwen Moore (D, WI) also says her son, 'Supreme Solar Butthead' is innocent, who am I to judge? LOL!
Let's hope this jury isn't a sea of Kerry supporters who will let the bad boys off.
The following cracks me up: >
"Craig Mastantuono, the attorney for Caldwell, further attacked the credibility of testimony from the national campaign workers sent to Milwaukee in the waning days of the close race in Wisconsin.
"You can consider all of them to be liars," Mastantuono told jurors.""
Ain't that the truth?? I mean, when dealing with Democrats, why would national campaign workers be any different from their candidates? They're all liars!
Regardless of whether these politically connected chumps get convicted, this case is highly educational. The Dem nuts whine and cry about stolen elections, while the Dem crooks in Milwaukee are doing what they can to steal the election. Hypocrisy and Democrats just seem to go together.
FRIDAY, Jan. 20, 2006, 2:57 p.m.
Sudden plea deals in tire slashing case
In an unexpected twist in the Election Day tire slashing trial, four former Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers, including the sons of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, have agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanors. Prosecutors will recommend probation sentences as part of the deal.
The plea agreements came in the middle of jury deliberations after an eight-day trial on felony property damage charges that carried potential 3 1/2 year prison terms upon conviction.
The surprise resolution was offered by prosecutors at 2 p.m., nearly 7 hours into deliberations and an hour after a jury note complained of an impasse.
Defendant Justin Howell was the only one of the five charged not included in the deal. The no contest pleas have not been formally made yet, but when they are, jurors will be left to deliberate the felony charge against Howell.
A note this morning from the jury to the judge about the verdict forms had hinted it was considering at least some convictions in the case, but the jury did not return a verdict before breaking for lunch.
Then around 1 p.m., the jury sent a second note suggesting they could not reach a verdict. We have people that are adamant about their decision and are not budging. We dont know what to do, the note read in part.
Defense attorneys immediately requested a mistrial, which Circuit Judge Michael Brennan denied. He doubted that the jury was intractably hung, since testimony lasted close to seven court days and deliberations had only been going about six hours.
Thats (an) insufficient amount of time to declare a mistrial, Brennan said, and ordered the jury to continue deliberating.
Less than an hour later, news of the plea deals emerged.
-By Derrick Nunnally
Any news on the "sentence"?
They copped a plea while the Jury was meeting. Probation and restitution of $5K+ split between them. So, in otherwords...they got away with it, though it was looking like a hung jury or an aquittal, so you take what you can get. That should be the last time that trick is tried on Election Day though, so it does bode well for Republican voters in our state.
"In an unexpected twist in the Election Day tire slashing trial, four former Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers, including the sons of U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee) and former Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt, have agreed to plead no contest to misdemeanors. The plea agreements came in the middle of jury deliberations after an eight-day trial on felony property damage charges that carried potential 3 1/2 year prison terms upon conviction.
Michael Pratt, 33, Sowande Omokunde, 26, Lewis G. Caldwell, 29, and Lavelle Mohammad, 36, have all pleaded no contest to misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property. Omokunde is Moore's son.
Prosecutors will recommend probation sentences as part of the deal, and that the four together pay $5,317 in restitution for the damaged tires. The surprise resolution was offered by prosecutors at 2 p.m., nearly 7 hours into deliberations and an hour after a jury note complained of an impasse."