DETROIT (WWJ) – As jurors in the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial start another day of deliberations, a family member of two of the defendants is questioning whether the jury can be fair.
WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton spoke with Daniel Ferguson — Kilpatrick’s brother-in-law and co-defendant Bobby Ferguson’s cousin — who said race played a major role in the entire trial.
“You talk about race, come on man, that’s what it is,” he said. “If Kwame Kilpatrick was white and his name was Kent Masters Kensington, he would not be on trial.”
Daniel Ferguson said the intense media coverage of the text message scandal and the jailing of Kilpatrick tainted the public’s perception of the former mayor.
“This case was the media’s case before it became the feds’ case,” he said. “My whole thing about this is fairness and the man did not get a fair shake, I believe. And there’s a large segment of the city that believes the same thing. Just think about all the negative publicity in this case before the trial came up. The propaganda campaign that’s been running in this city for the last 10 years has been heavily influenced to get a conviction against Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson and Bernard Kilpatrick.”
And the media had a hand, according to Daniel Ferguson, in “brainwashing” Detroit residents to think Kilpatrick is an evil, scheming mastermind who stole thousands of taxpayer dollars.
“There’s a large segment of black folks that are brainwashed, and I’m not saying this jury, I’m saying the citizens and the people of Detroit were systematically programmed to hate Kwame Malik Kilpatrick,” he said. “To the people who heard the evidence in there, they’re kind of like ‘Oh, ok, dang we didn’t look at it like that’ because they had been programmed for so many years to not look at it like that.”
Daniel Ferguson described the prosecution in the corruption case as “smoke and mirrors,” and went as far as to say that if Detroiters weren’t “brainwashed,” Kilpatrick wouldn’t even be on trial.
“It’s almost a travesty that they’re even on trial,” he said. “If you take a consensus of the people in the city… people would reelect [Kilpatrick] today. He would win right now, and there in my logic lies the travesty. I mean, here it is, they’re trying to get people to hate the guy that they elected, and here it is 10 years later and the people still would vote him in office and they still champion him on his work. Now, the affair and all that other stuff, yeah, ok. But his body of work, you cannot question it.”
Daniel Ferguson said events that transpired since Kilpatrick left office are not all that different from situations overseas.
“What happened here in Detroit was a bloodless coup. If you look at every situation overseas that the government goes in and takes out the leader and puts in their own public regime, it’s the same thing that happened here in Detroit,” he said. “They came in and destroyed the education, destroyed the real estate, took out the head person in charge and created chaos. And now they’re restoring order the way they see fit by bringing in the emergency manager.”
So, how does he think the case will end?
“I’m pretty confident in the fact that the evidence was presented by the prosecution and the defense did the job, I’m confident in that,” he said. “Now, what these jurors are going to do, I have no idea. I know if I sat in on the evidence and from my experience of living in America, there’s no way that I can honestly say that I would convict these guys.”
Kilpatrick is on trial with his father Bernard and friend Bobby Ferguson, whose construction company got millions of dollars in city work. The government says the Kilpatricks rigged contracts to benefit Ferguson and get a share of the spoils.
The government says the former mayor of Detroit enjoyed a “tidal wave” of cash after winning election in 2001. Kilpatrick resigned from office in 2008 and pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by lying in a civil case about having sex with an aide — and subsequently served 14 months in prison for violating his probation in that case.
The Kilpatricks and Bobby Ferguson, who have consistently denied any wrongdoing, each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted on racketeering, bribery and tax charges.
Click here to catch up on the trial.