Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tire-Slashing Trial Set to Go to Jury

By Dennis A. Shook

The case against five Milwaukee Democratic campaigners accused of slashing tires on rented vans outside the Republican National Committee headquarters should be in the hands of the jury later today once each side has finishes its closing arguments.

The prosecution and five defense attorneys today can each take up to 30 minutes each to present their closing statements.

On Wednesday, the five defense attorneys moved for dismissal of the cases of each of their clients, citing a lack of anything but circumstantial evidence. But Brennan denied those motions.

Brennan also denied a joint motion that the charges against Justin Howell be dropped for lack of evidence. Attorneys maintained that the fact that little evidence was presented against him, which meant his attorney asked very few questions, would make their clients appear guilty because they were forced to ask questions to defend their clients. Brennan also denied that motion.

Earlier in the day, a bid by defense attorney Robin Shellow to cast suspicion on national Democratic campaigners for the incident was largely unsuccessful.

While Shellow as able to ask some questions related to the national get-out-the-vote campaigners, the judge refused to allow Shellow to pursue questions about where the national workers were during the slashing of tires on vans rented by the Republican party for Election Day that the five Milwaukee Democratic campaigners were charged with.

Shellow questioned the alibies of the national workers and insinuated that national workers could have been responsible for the actions.

"I am asking for a mistrial on the basis that, under the 6th Amendment, we have a right to present the defense we want to make," Shellow said, but Brennan refused to allow her to pursue her questions and denied the mistrial motion.

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