UPDATE: St. Paul Police Officer Timothy Rehak and another defendant, Mark Naylon, were found guilty this afternoon of the theft of $6,000 from a hotel room in November 2004. The money was taken in a sting operation set up by the FBI to test their integrity. A more complete update will be posted later today.
Judge and jury are hearing a case in federal court in Minneapolis that could have played on “NYPD Blue.” MinnPost legal affairs reporter Judith Yates Borger is following the trial’s developments. To read her previous reports on the trial, go here.
It’s 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Three attorneys, one for the prosecution and two for the defense, are ready to give the jury their closing arguments. Kevin Short, who represents defendant Tim Rehak, has told the judge that he can’t possibly deliver his closing remarks in less than an hour and a half. The other two attorneys have agreed to an hour each, plus an extra half hour for prosecution rebuttal. It’s going to be a long afternoon.
One by one the attorneys step to the lectern, adjust the microphone, and recite the facts of the case, as they see it. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marty tells the jury the defense claim that the money was taken as part of a joke is “ludicrous” and unsupported by the facts. They stole the money, he says.
Au contraire, says Paul Rogosheske, who is defending Mark Naylon, the man shown in the video tape putting the fingered $6,000 in his right pocket. Nine arguments in the prosecution case give the jury opportunity to find reasonable doubt that Naylon is guilty. “Every dollar is accounted for,” Rogosheske argues.
After the jury has had breaks between Marty and Rogosheske’s closing statements, all are seated and ready to hear the words of the loquacious Mr. Short.
His closing argument is dramatic, his voice rising to a shout at some points, and dropping to a whisper at others. The government has tried to put “round pegs in square holes and left splinters all over the courtroom,” he says. Flapping his long arms like a seagull headed out to sea, Short tells the jury that the defense lawyers could have “come in here and played cribbage for two weeks and the result would have been the same.” The government’s case doesn’t “make a lick of sense,” he says.
After an hour, Judge Patrick Schiltz cautions Short that it’s time to wrap it up. Short goes on for another 20 minutes until he gets to his grand finale:
“There is only one verdict you can return,” he tells the jury in a booming voice. “And that is GUILTY.”
“You mean ‘not guilty,’” Schiltz whispers to Short.
The case is expected to go to the jury today.