DETROIT - Testimony in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial has officially ended.
"February 6th, 5 months to the day", said Judge Nancy Edmunds about how potential jurors first arrived for jury selection on September 6th, 2012.
Prosecution took almost 5 months to call more than 80 witnesses to the stand.
The defendants' lawyers called less than a dozen witnesses for defense testimony that lasted only four days. Judge Edmunds has repeatedly instructed jurors throughout the trial that the burden of proof is not on the defense and that they were under no obligation to call any witnesses.
As Kwame Kilpatrick, Bobby Ferguson and Bernard Kilpatrick stood by their attorneys, Judge Edmunds instructed them on their rights to opt to testify or not to do so. The judge told the defendants that if they chose not to testify, that choice could not be held against them in jury deliberations. Alternatively, if they did choose to testify, they should know that the government could question them and could use any previous convictions to impeach them.
Kwame and Bernard Kilpatrick and Ferguson all clearly told a courtroom void of jurors that they were choosing not to testify.
Judge Edmunds then called the jurors back to the courtroom and commended them on being so conscientious throughout the trial. She excused them for the rest of the week stating that all the lawyers in the case needed time to prepare closing arguments and go over jury instructions.
The judge also advised jurors that it was her practice to go over jury instructions before closing arguments began and would do so Monday morning. Beginning Monday, until the jury has deliberated and reached their verdict, the court will run full days instead of ending at 1pm as has been the case during testimony in the trial.
Earlier in the morning, the defense called its last two witnesses.
Gerald Evelyn, one of Ferguson's lawyers, called Robert G. Schneider II to the stand. Schneider works with Michigan CAT, a dealer of Caterpillar construction equipment.
Schneider testified that Ferguson was a longtime client who had bought several millions dollars worth of equipment from his company- $2,294,683.75 to be exact.
The witness also described loaning Ferguson equipment to help out with the Motor City Makeover project.
The very last witness to testify in the trial was also called by Evelyn. Steven M. Zervos of Southfield-based insurance agency Zervos Group Inc. told the court that his relationship with the Ferguson family dated back to the contractor's father, Homer Ferguson.
Zervos said that his company provided Ferguson's companies, Ferguson Enterprises Inc. (FEI) and Xcel Construction, with insurance and bonds.
He testified that in the period between 2002 and 2008, FEI paid his company $3,668,472 in insurance premiums and $309,689 in bond premiums. In that same period, Xcel paid the witness's company $230,921 in insurance premiums and $74,272 in bond premiums.
Zervos finished by saying it was special that in all the time that he had worked with Ferguson, the contractor had not had a single bond complaint on any of his jobs.
Defendants and their lawyers were swarmed by media as they made their way out of the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse. Kwame Kilpatrick, who had no comment, made for a solitary looking figure as he momentarily broke away from the pack and stood alone.
Closing arguments in the Kwame Kilpatrick federal corruption trial begin Monday at 9AM.
About the author
Alexandra Harland is a Princeton undergrad and has a masters degree in International affairs with Columbia. A Montreal native, she worked with the Daily Telegraph newspaper for a few years before transitioning to TV, when she worked at ABC News with Peter Jennings. Alexandra has also worked in newsrooms in both Detroit and Boston.
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