It was courtroom drama at its finest. At the start of the courtroom proceedings in Alabama’s bingo corruption trial Friday morning, all nine defendants rested their cases.
It took the prosecution eight weeks to detail their case against the defendants. Jurors marched in and out of the courtroom during that time as both sides debated the merits of the evidence.
As the defense rested, only defendant Ray Crosby had presented one witness, Richard Whitaker, director of the Medical Association of Alabama. He was there to tell how his organization made a $10,000 contribution to defendant Senator Quinton Ross through Corker.
The prosecutors tried to paint the money as a payoff from defendant Milton McGregor. They contended McGregor funneled the money through the medical association after they said Ross demanded campaign contributions to vote for a bill that would have sent a constitutional amendment to the voters to decide if electronic bingo would be legal in Alabama.
The government prosecutor cross-examined Whitaker with a vengeance most of Thursday. Some observers assumed the government was going to badger every witness with the same vigor.
So, as Friday’s court proceedings began, McGregor was the first to rest. Then, within the span of about a minute, all nine defendants had rested. That dashed any further hopes the prosecution could have to skewering defense witnesses that might be used to deflate the government’s case.
Defense lawyers renewed their motions to dismiss. Judge Myron Thompson plans to rule on those motions Monday morning at 9am. Thursday, Thompson said he had reservations about some of the charges, but he wanted to let the defense portion of the trial go forward. He could still dismiss some, or all of the charges before the case goes to the jury. Thompson says he will rule on the motions Monday morning.
They expect to spend Monday and Tuesday covering motions and housekeeping measures from both sides. Closing arguments could begin Wednesday. It is expected the prosecution and lawyers for the nine defendants will take two days to put a bow on the case.
When it does go to the jury, Thompson says jurors will be fully sequestered for deliberations.