There’s no shortage of trials unfolding in courtrooms around the country this week and next.
As I write this, Bill Cosby is in the middle of day 2 of his sexual assault trial in a Philadelphia suburb. Predictably, the prosecution asserted in opening statements that Cosby’s own words (from the civil deposition about drugging women for sex) will hurt him. In its opening, the defense said the 2004 alleged assault did not happen as accuser Andrea Constand maintains, and that her credibility will be seriously challenged. In a surprise move, at least according to reports from the courtroom, the prosecution started its case with the testimony of accuser #6 whose identity is now open. Her name is Kelly Johnson and she claims that, in 1996, Cosby drugged and assaulted her at the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles. She is the one other woman the judge allowed the prosecution to present as evidence of a pattern of assaultive conduct.
This case will be won or lost on the strength of Constand’s testimony–how well she comes across and how she holds up on cross examination. Cosby has indicated that he does not intend to testify. The trial should last at least through next week. Read more about the background of this case on the Cosby’s KOC page.
Openings and testimony began today, June 6, in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michelle Carter, 20, in Massachusetts. Carter waived her right to trial by jury. That means the judge will decide if she’s guilty or not of manslaughter for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide in 2014 via text messages. Carter was miles away at the time. You can read some of the case documents on the Documents page. The state indicated there are about 20,000 text messages; some of them are in the state’s 46-page response to a defense motion to dismiss from earlier in the case.
Given the defense argument that this case is basically criminalizing speech, perhaps it’s understandable that the defense waived a jury. If the judge convicts Carter, I suspect the case could go to the highest courts on appeal.
Conrad Roy’s mother testified today about her son’s psychological problems but she saw no signs of suicidal tendencies in him in the days and hours before his death.
James Bradley–North Carolina
The Wilmington, North Carolina trial of James Bradley begins next week. Bradley is accused of murdering Shannon Van Newkirk but her body has never been found. You may recall that I interviewed North Carolina Star News reporter Fran Norton about this case (see the KOC podcast with her) in May 2016. Fran also joined KOC for an online chat. You can also read a few documents from the case on the Documents page. There’s a twist in the Bradley case–police dug up a body buried in bags and charged Bradley with Van Newkirk’s murder. Only after the arrest did DNA prove that the body in the bags was another woman. The charges against Bradley for Van Newkirk’s murder remain. He has NOT been charged with the murder of the woman in the bags though it was a woman he knew. Bradley had already served 23 years for the murder of his eight-year-old stepdaughter.
Jury selection is in its third day today, June 6, in Dippolito’s third trial for the solicitation to commit murder. She is accused of hiring a hitman to kill her husband but the hitman was an undercover police officer. You can follow the court action on Twitter @pbpcourts (Palm Beach Post courts). The trial is taking place in West Palm Beach, FL; the incident was in Boynton Beach, FL. Read more about Dippolito’s case on her KOC page.