Day 2: Kwame Kilpatrick Defense Presents Final Arguments (page 2)
10:35 a.m.: “Emma Bell wasn’t sharing with Kwame Kilpatrick,” attorney Jim Thomas said, adding Bell wasn’t the “type to share.” He shows a series of checks that show Bell cashing large checks and turning them into cashier’s checks to pay her bills, adding none of that money went to Kilpatrick. “That woman could cry a tear and then freeze me into a block of ice with a stare,” Thomas said.
10:30 a.m. The defense produces a text message from Kilpatrick instructing a staffer to have Emma Bell meet him in former chief of staff Christine Beatty’s office. Attorney Jim Thomas said it wasn’t the type of secret meeting room where Bell could deliver cash. “Hold it against them,” Thomas said, adding the prosecution should have shown the jury that text message.
10:25 a.m. Defense says Kilpatrick prosecutors want jury to “connect the dots” and believe that because Emma Bell had a lot of money and Kilpatrick paid his credit card bills in cash, he got the money from Bell. Bell (who was a Kilpatrick fundraiser when he was in office and testified she had to kick back 50 percent to Kilpatrick himself) lost $82,000 gambling in 2008 alone, Thomas said, adding Bell was no longer working at the time. “Did she keep the money under a mattress and take it to a casino?” Thomas asked.
10:20 a.m. Defense says entire case against Kilpatrick rests on three witnesses: Cobo Center contractor Karl Kado, Kilpatrick former friends and associates Emma Bell and Derrick Miller. Attorney jim Thomas says these witnesses were “bought and paid for,” and concerned only with “what’s in it for me.”
He points out the government “has a lot of power,” to make people bargain, says government used the currency of getting witnesses out of trouble in exchange for testimony. Thomas says Ema Bell hadn’t paid income taxes in 20 years and cried “crocodile tears” in court.”‘She was a person who was crafty,” Thomas said.
10:15 a.m. After a short break, defense attorney Jim Thomas told the jury he wanted to discuss how it is people become witnesses. He pointed out a witness who complained his contract was held up because of Kilpatrick seeking money said “wow” when Thomas pointed out Kilpatrick signed off on it in December 2005, but council didn’t approve it until April 2006. ‘That was kind of an ‘aha’ moment,” Thomas said.
9:55 a.m. Rebutting testimony that the Inland Waters contract for water and sewer work in Detroit wasn’t paid until they agreed to add co-defendant and Kilpatrick pal Bobby Ferguson to the payroll, defense attorney Jim Thomas describes it as “rumor and innuendo.”
Thomas says Kilpatrick was running for office and the race was so tight it was unknown if he would still be the mayor the next term (in 2006.) “It takes much, much longer to get through City Council,” Thomas said. “A crime or responsible government? You decide.”
9:40 a.m.: Defense brings up documents pointing out court records lauding Kilpatrick for bringing the Water Department in compliance with the Clean Water Act. “Does that sound like irresponsible (leadership)?” Thomas asked.
Thomas adds Kilpatrick was criticized for text messages with Ferguson (which the prosecution introduced because they seemed to show the two working out side deals), but Thomas said part of mayor’s job is communicating with constituents.
“He wasn’t the only person doing business in the city of Detroit, but because of the text messages we see what it is we see, some of it is embarrassing, some of it probably not well thought out,” Thomas said.
9:30 a.m.: Defense attorney Jim Thomas tries to poke holes in the extortion claims, saying one of the biggest contractors in the city of Detroit, who said he feared he would lose bids without Ferguson included as a subcontractor, “doesn’t make sense.”
“Fear of economic harm? These are victims?” Thomas said, pointing out rich some of the people who testified against Kilpatrick are.
He says it was responsible government for Kilpatrick to use contractor with the most experience, who was closest to the construction site.
9:25 a.m. Defense takes on racketeering charge, alleging Kilpatrick went with contractors he knew he could rely on. He says equalization credit (which the city used to award Ferguson jobs when he was the higher bidder) went to businesses with Detroit residents as employees. “I’m hoping that you see there’s a reason for that,” Thomas said. “The businesses that feed people … have moved out of the city.” He says preferences were established that gave people with Detroit headquarters a “leg up” in bidding process.
9:15 a.m.: Defense attorney Thomas starts off with the state arts grant that was supposed to fund programs for kids and Kilpatrick allegedly funneled into a faux job for his wife Carlita Kilpatrick. Thomas says “it was a necessary job and it was helpful,” says Carlita did perform work for the pay.
“I thought it was a slap in the face,” Thomas says about testimony referencing Carlita just “wanting to get paid.” “That made me wince a little bit, I hope it made you wince, too,” Thomas says.