The Ramirez (Kick in the Head) Murder Trial began yesterday 4/27/09, and continues today. The Scranton Times is running a LIVE Blog. They have a reporter in the courtroom who is sending updates. I will be reading the live blog and summarizing the results.
Tuesday 4/28: (all times Eastern)
8:25: Few have arrived so far to watch the proceedings, which resume at 9 a.m. It may be shaping up to be another sparse crowd. There were a lot of teenagers at the preliminary hearing last August--maybe Shen. Valley's attendance policy has reduced turnout.
8:32: Donchak and Piekarsky are hanging out and speaking with people who have arrived early.
8:42: Media, audience, and lawyers beginning to show up. Piekarsky and Donchak have quietly been chatting out alongside the seating area.
8:47: Colin Walsh, who has pleaded guilty to federal chage(s) in a sealed case related to the incident is seen at the courthouse. Perhaps learning a lesson from yesterday's hot weather, the defendants and several lawyers have started the day without their jackets.
8:53: Colin Walsh has been spotted in the D.A.'s office.
8:59: The Garcias are seen in the courthouse
9:11: Prosecution calls Brian Scully. Scully: I have pending aggravated assault and ethnic intimidation charges in juvenile court, and made no promises regarding my testimony. Scully: I was drinking at the creek with a group including Piekarsky, Walsh, Donchak and Lawson. Donchak delivered the alcohol. Scully: I made the "isn't it a little late for you to be out" and "go back to Mexico" comments. Scully: Piekarsky was the strongest person there. Scully: Piekarsky took Ramirez down with a football tackle, and Donchak punched a fallen Ramirez multilple times. Scully: the fighting stopped, and Donchak and I cursed at Ramirez. We were walking away when Ramirez hit me in the back of the head. Scully: Walsh knocked Ramirez down with a punch. Scully: Ramirez was on his back with eyes closed and hands at his sides. I missed a kick, Piekarsky kicked him in the left side of the head.
9:53: Scully: several males showed up after the fight, and one of them pointed a gun at me. Scully: we met after the fight to get our story straight. Scully: Piekarsky said he kicked Ramirez, and Donchak "said he was glad he didn't break his knuckles."
9:56: Scully: the next day Shen. Police Officer Moyer called me in, and I gave a false statement which omitted some facts, including the kick. Scully: Donchak had a "border patrol" t-shirt and wore it multiple times prior to the fight.
10:11: Cross-examination, Fanelli to Scully: your omissions were designed "to protect you and you alone." Scully: I wanted to protect everybody. Under Fanelli's cross-examination, Scully says he was intoxicated and his recollection abilities may have been impaired. Scully: I don't remember Piekarsky making any comments to Ramirez. Scully: I play four or five sports and am one of the best players. Fanelli: but you missed a kick on a motionless target?
10:41: Markosky alludes to Schlack's Monday testimony that multiple people kicked Ramirez. An objection ends the line of questioning. Scully: one fight stopped after Donchak pushed Ramirez away.
10:45: On redirect, Scully says Moyer's partner on July 12 was Piekarsky's mother's boyfriend. (Moyer is police officer) Moyer's partner was Jason Hayes. Scully's testimony has concluded.
Proceedings will resume after a 20-minute recess.
11:14: DA Jim Goodman is questioning Walsh. Walsh: I have been charged under a federal civil rights statute under the Fair Housing Act. http://www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/civilrights/statutes.htm#section241 (when force or threat of force is used to interfere w/ rights guaranteed by the fair housing act the department of justice may bring criminal prosecutions that can result in prison sentences and/or fines for those convicted of such crimes. these crimes include cross burning,arson,fire bombings,vandalism to property, written and oral threats,and assault on persons attempting to exercise their fair housing rights )
11:33: Walsh: my understanding is I would be sentenced to four years on my federal charge if I co-operated and testified. Walsh: Scully made the "late to be out" and racial comments. I also cursed at Ramirez. Walsh: I wasn't scared of Ramirez because "he was smaller than us and there were six of us." Walsh: after the first fight, Roxanne Rector and Victor Garcia were trying to calm Ramirez down. Walsh: Scully continued making comments, and Ramirez attacked him. Walsh: me, Piekarsky, Donchak and Scully kicked the fallen Ramirez. Walsh: I took Ramirez down with a solid "uppercut hook" and saw him hit his head. Walsh: Piekarsky kicked Ramirez in the head while he was down. Walsh: "It wasn't right what (Piekarsky) did, kicking a man when he was down."
11:46: Walsh: after we fled the scene, a man showed up, pointed a gun at us and said "what you did wasn"t cool." Walsh: Hayes (police officer/his mom's boyfriend) gave Piekarsky a ride back to the scene that night. Piekarsky told police Ramirez started the fight and omit the kick. Walsh: Piekarsky's mother, Tammy, told us that Hayes told her Ramirez was Life Flighted and we better get our story straight. Walsh says Donchak later showed him a small piece of metal and said he was lucky he had it. Walsh: Tammy told us our stories were inconsistent with Rector's version of events. Walsh: Officer Moyer asked me if I talked to the other guys "meaning did I get my story straight." Walsh: I gave a false statement saying Ramirez threw the first punch and minimizing the racial aspects. Walsh on Piekarsky's kick to Ramirez's head: "I was right next to him." 12:09: On cross-examination, Fanelli is grilling Walsh on how he violated Ramirez's federal housing rights. Fanelli: "Tell me how a 17-year-old violated a man's housing rights." Walsh: our actions intimidated other Latinos from wanting to move into the area. Walsh has repeatedly said the federal record makes it clear he plead guilty to aiding and abetting crimes by the group as a whole. Walsh: my understanding of federal sentencing guideline Rule 5K.1 is if I testify truthfully my sentence can be reduced. Fanelli: so you have to impress a federal prosecutor to get a sentence reduction? Walsh: "I don't have to impress anyone. I'm willing to take the nine years."
12:30: Fanelli has asked both of today's witness about the color of Scully's and Piekarskys's shoes. Walsh: I saw no kick-and-miss by Sculy.
12:32: There about 60 to 70 people in the general seating area, which includes press. Crystal Dillman is again present.
12:32: Walsh says his punch on Ramirez wasn't a sucker punch: "I looked him right in the eye."
12:43: Walsh has concluded his testimony.
The trial is on a lunch recess, and the proceedings resume at 1:45 p.m
1:03: Scully's shoes: Scully and Walsh both said white. Piekarsky's shoes: Scully said blue and grey, Walsh said grey. No reports of any protests or demonstrations today.
1:54: Prosecution calls Victor Garcia. Garcia: me, my wife Arielle, Ramirez and Rector were hanging out at my place on July 12. Ramirez and I were drinking. Garcia: Arielle and I dropped Ramirez and Rector off at the Vine St. Park. Garcia: when I arrived at the park, I saw 5 to 6 boys and heard one of them yell a slur at Ramirez. Garcia: after I unsuccessfully tried to pull Ramirez and a boy apart, I was punched in the back of the head and started to fight back. Garcia: "No one was trying to help me, (and I said) I'm not going to get beat up too" Garcia: I didn't see Ramirez hit the ground--"all I heard was a 'boom' on the ground." Garcia: Ramirez didn't respond to his nickname "caballo" or slaps to the face to wake him. Garcia: Ramirez was kicked in the head "out of nowhere." I chased and kicked at the boy, but didn't see who it was. Garcia: Ramirez was foaming at the mouth.
2:22: Fanelli asks Garcia if, in a previous statement, he saw shorts, black socks and white shoes on the kicker. Garcia says he "probably" gave that testimony, but isn't "certain." Garcia can't identify the boy he fought with, but says he was taller and had dark hair. Garcia: Ramirez was not wearing a shirt.
2:25: Prosecution calls Barry Nelson Boyer, of Shenandoah. Boyer: I saw Piekarsky get into a cop's car at 11:30 on July 12. I followed them to the park. Boyer: Hayes and Piekarsky's mom were "going together." Boyer: Moyer asked if I had been involved, and I said no. Boyer: I met with those involved the next day at Piekarsky's house to get our story straight.
2:40: Stephanie Wierzalis gives brief testimony that a photo from her MySpace depicts Donchak in a Border Patrol shirt at a Halloween party. Wierzalis said she knew Donchak through mutual friends.
2:46: Correction: Boyer saw Piekarsky get into a cop car and followed alone. Donchak was not involved in the transport. Boyer is a friend of the boys. Boyer: at the scene, Piekarsky pointed to a male and "that's the guy with the gun" and that person was taken into custody.
Recess called until 3 p.m.
3:02: Prosecution calls Mahanoy City police officer John Kaczmarczyk, who says he responded to the scene of the fight. Kazmarchik on a weapon recovered at the scene: "it appeared to be a BB gun." Kaczmarczyk: Ramirez had a red, swollen face and what appeared to be a shoe print on his chest. Fanelli starts to ask if an untrained eye would be mistaken for a real gun, but is stopped by an objection. Kaczmarczyk says the weapon resembled a .45 automatic.
3:16: Prosecution calls Richard Exemitis, a Lost Creek Ambulance chief who says he was called to the scene. Exemitis: Ramirez was unconscious and unresponsive. The right side of his head was swollen, and he had abrasions on the left side of chest.
3:27: Citing the humidity and expectations of more seasonal temperatures Wednesday, Baldwin is calling for an end to the day's proceedings.
Note on the "bb gun": it was not admitted into evidence, and no word on whether or not it was the gun allegedly pointed at the boys.
The trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The trial resumes Wednesday. A new daily blog will be posted for each day of the Courtroom Testimony.