The Ramirez (Kick in the Head) Murder Trial began this morning 4/27/09, and is underway. 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.
Monday Morning 4/27: (all times Eastern)
8:36: Donchak, Piekarsky and lawyers arrive in courtroom.
8:48: Judge enters and begins trial.
8:56: Jury enters. 9:21 Judge instructs Jury.
9:41: Prosecution Opening Statement: Piekarsky kicks Ramirez head like a football. This is a group assault, not street fight gone bad.
9:42-1059: Defense argument: Ramirez in relationship with girl he is walking with. Ramirez is the agressor and calls for back up six times. Walsh punched Ramirez and he was dead when his head hit the ground (before the kick to the head.) Ramirez mentioned gun when he called his friends for back-up. Scully called Ramirez racial slurs, not Piekarsky and he "went to kick" Ramirez, not Piekarsky. Doctor will testify there was no kick to the head or that the kick was insignificant. Evidence will show Ramirez started it or was hell bent on finishing it. Fighting dispersed when friends in van returned and Ramirez got up and sucker punched Scully.
20 minute recess
11:26: Prosecution calls Trooper John P Minalda (State Police). Trooper, who was not on location on July 12, testifies he took photographs and made maps of the area, which are admitted into evidence. Defense cross.
11:54: Prosecution calls Trooper Robert Wessner of the state police at Reading, a member of the forensic services unit. Wessner provides similar testimony and evidence.
Break for lunch. Proceedings will resume at 1 p.m.
1:04: Prosecution calls Elizabeth Schlack, a Shenandoah resident, who lives near the incident.
1:17: Schlack: I called 911 after I heard continuous thumping and saw three males kicking a prone man. On cross-examination, defense enters Schlack's 911 tape as evidence. Fanelli points out that Schlack referred to "teenagers fighting and beating each other" and counted 6 to 8 people during the 911 call.
1:37: Prosecution calls Roxanne Rector, 15, of Shenandoah. Rector had a sexual relationship with Ramirez, and he had asked her to marry him. Rector: one boy asked if it was past her bedtime. She and Ramirez walked away, and comments continued from the group. Rector: I don't know who threw the first punch. Rector: The fighting left Ramirez unconscious, and friend Arielle Garcia said he was not breathing. Rector: a boy falsely said Ramirez was breathing, after which the group fled.
2:21: Rector on Cross Examination: Rector: It was Walsh who made the "bedtime" comment. Rector: I asked the boys to stop. Scully said "tell your boyfriend to stop," but I didn't; "I wasn't thinking." Rector: I saw no kick to the head.
2:34: Rector on Redirect: Rector said Ramirez was already on the ground when Scully said "tell your boyfriend to stop."
2:43: 20 minute recess
3:04: Prosecution calls the last witness of the day: Ben Lawson, one of the teens in the group on July 12. Lawson: Piekarsky was "strong" and could bench press 215 lbs. Lawson: I was drinking with a group including Piekarsky, Donchak, Walsh and Scully at the creek earlier in the evening. Lawson: Scully sarcastically asked Rector "isn't it a little late for you to be out?" Lawson: Scully said "This is Shenandoah. This is America. Go back to Mexico to Ramirez." Lawson: Ramirez had his phone out, and Scully said "call your friends." Lawson: Victor Garcia tried to break up the fighting, and I didn't see him throw any punches. Lawson: Walsh knocked Ramirez down with a punch, and "the fighting was over" when Piekarsky kicked the left side of his head. Lawson: we met at Piekarsky's house the next day to get our story straight. Lawson: "Nobody kicked him, there were no racial slurs, we weren't drinking and Brian got hit first" was their false story. Lawson: Piekarsky said he kicked Ramirez during the meeting at his house. Lawson: After the fight, Donchak had said "I'm glad I had this" and shown a small rectangular piece of metal he'd used to punch.
4:07: Under cross-examination, Markosky points to discrepancies in Lawson's preliminary hearing and trial testimonies. Markosky said Lawson went from 4 to 5 "moderate" punches to "hard" punches in his different testimonies. (Earlier, Rector had testified Ramirez gave her his shirt, wallet, and medallion to hold before the fight. ) Under cross-examination by Fanelli, Lawson said he never saw Ramirez remove his shirt. Lawson: I didn't see how the fights started and ended. Lawson: Rector asked Ramirez to stop, but he would not. Lawson: I can't attribute any racial slurs to Piekarsky. Lawson: I saw Walsh punch Ramirez. Lawson: I was frustrated after the fight and punched the Garcias' vehicle. Lawson: My first statment to the police "wasn't good" because I was still trying to protect my friends.
4:52: Proceedings have concluded for the day. The trial, along with the Republican-Herald's live coverage, resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
See tomorrow's Blog for future courtroom action.