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Judge mad over tweet in California officers' trial

January 9, 2014
Associated Press

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday interrupted closing arguments in the trial of two police officers accused of killing a homeless man to angrily threaten jail time for whoever posted a Twitter picture of the jury.

"If I find out who took this picture, you're going to jail," Orange County Superior Court Judge William Froeberg said, holding up a printout of the picture.

The judge said the picture, in which only one of the 12 jurors can be identified, appeared on a Twitter account with the name Aaron Murphy, but it wasn't clear who that was or who actually took the photo.

The judge brought up the issue between the closing arguments of the two attorneys representing former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli.

By day's end, the defense rested. The prosecution will give its rebuttal argument Thursday morning and then the case will go to the jury.

Ramos has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of Kelly Thomas, who died after a struggle with police that was captured on surveillance video. Cicinelli has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and use of excessive force.

The 33-minute surveillance video at the heart of the trial shows six officers kneeing, pummeling and repeatedly stunning Thomas with an electric gun as he cries out for his father nearly 30 times, apologizes and begs for air.

Thomas, 37, never regained consciousness and died five days later, on July 10, 2011, after doctors removed his life support.

Cicinelli's attorney, Michael Schwartz, told the jury during his closing argument that prosecutors wrongly argued that Thomas feared for his life and acted in self-defense.

"The first myth I'm going to talk about is the myth that Kelly Thomas throughout this ordeal was afraid for his life," Schwartz said, according to City News Service. "He found himself in the middle of a fight that he started."

Schwartz pointed out that after Ramos threatened to shut Thomas up with his fists, Thomas replied "start punching, dude."

"That's not someone who's afraid," Schwartz said. That's someone who is challenging back."

 
 

 

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