Friday, April 1, 2011

Body language of defendants tells a story of adjustment

This is hearsay within hearsay within hearsay. - Bucky Harris, defense co-counsel for Sgt. John Valdez
Belton – Accused Capital Murder co-defendant Kyle Moesch is Charles Dickens' self-effacing, timid character Uriah Heep - personified.

When bailiffs open the door from the jail holding cells and let him come in the courtroom, he continually wrings his hands in front of him, as if he is washing them in an absence of soap and water.

Once he is done with the ritual scrubbing, he holds the palm of his left hand against his solar plexus, his right hand writhing by his side as he wipes it on his trousers and his fingers describe tortured motions rubbing against each other to rid themselves of some unseen substance.

Then, he's back to the hand wringing again. He does this day in and day out when the court recesses for a break, lunch, or the day's proceedings. Kristy Baldwin Jacobs, the wife of Cpl. Jeremy Jacobs who testified yesterday, described him as looking shook up – totally shocked – when he let himself into her duplex apartment with a key he had retained from a time when he was Cpl. Jacobs' room mate in the early morning hours after the murder of Sgt. Ryan Sullivan on Oct. 11, 2008, and said, “Ryan is dead. He has been killed.”

Co-defendant Katie Briggs, the alleged mastermind of the plot to murder the Sergeant for $100,000 in life insurance benefits, holds her wrists crossed at the small of her back, as if shackled there, her squat posture submissive, bent at the waist, cowering, meekly lowering her eyes and torso when anyone, especially the uniformed bailiffs who are armed with semiautomatic pistols, look her way.

The accused wielder of the unknown sharp instrument that left the fierce hand to hand fighter literally in ribbons, face down in a pool of his own blood, Sgt. John Valdez, walks insouciantly, his heart and vitals totally exposed to anyone he confronts, hips thrust forward in a slew-footed gait. He keeps his eyes fixed on the surface of the defense table until the testimony turns to evidence of blood or weapons.

At that point, he pinches the bridge of his nose, gently massaging his temples as if he has an ice cream headache, then constantly picking at imaginary “sleep” in his eyes, pulling at his lashes and lids and beginning the process all over again with the next question or answer that comes.

In testimony today, the leaad investigator, Killeen Police Department Detective Keith Drozd, related in halting testimony continually hobbled by objections from defense counsel about hearsay evidence and the lack of observance of the confrontation clause of the 6th Amendment how he took statements from Kyle Moesch over a period of a month and finally learned all about the plot to kill Sgt. Sullivan after Cpl. Jacobs came forward in an anonymous telephone call. He told of finding $4,480 in currency in an envelope stuffed in the pocket of a motorcycle jacket in a motel room where John Valdez stayed for the weekend after the murder of Sgt. Sullivan.

A young woman from Sunnnyvale, California, testified about the methods used to identify source recording and their digitally re-mastered duplicates supplied by her company. She helped the prosecutors prove up the fact that the tape she received in California on a microcasette shipped by Walgreen's in Killeen was one and the same as the one that was duplicated in the California lab.

On the tape, Sgt. Sullivan gave instructions for the disposal of his possessions and life insurance benefits should he meet his demise in combat in Iraq. The state further developed the allegation that the tape re-mastered and duplicated was one that had been made prior to his first deployment to Iraq in 2006.

According to the company's records, the tape came to Sunnyvale on July 10, 2007, and was shipped back out along with the newly duplicated DVD on July 27.

Asked to confirm the spelling of her name for publication, she demurred, though it is a matter of public record. “Would you have to use my full name?” she asked fearfully. Told she had no obligation to comply with any such request, she said she would rather not risk it.

Her wishes shall be respected.

Security is extra tight. In addition to officers guarding the doors, the jury box and the spectator gallery, two stone-faced and stoic plainclothesmen sit on the front row each day, rotating to the side aisles any time the defendants are escorted out of the courtroom.

Asked if they are attached to the Sheriff's Department, one of the men stared straight ahead, muttered under his breath in an angry tone, and clamped his jaw.

Sorry if I spoke out of turn, sir.

Much drama has accompanied the proceedings. Chief Bailiff Sgt. John Butry confronted this newsman about a report of having taken photos and made audio recordings inside the courtroom. The allegation is false. I have taken no such devices into Bell County, having read the local court rules before I left home in Bosque.

District Judge Martha Trudo told the prosecutors, defense counsel, family members of the victim, jurors and spectators that someone has been trying to contact members of the jury through such social media as Facebook. It is definitely not The Legendary who is doing that.

Temple “Telegraph” newsman Paul A. Romer predicted, “You will probably become part of the story by being put in jail.”

On that note, I have made a decision not to return to any jurisdiction in Bell County in an attempt to gather news or publish facts about anything.

Good luck. It's been real. I'll have to say that.

- The Legendary

p.s. An Airborne Ranger speaks of his post-war experiences in this exclusive interview with The Legendary:

Man, I hit the ground at San Francisco International. I had razor creases in my britches; I had my combat infantryman's badge; I had my jump wings; I had my trousers bloused; I had my beret pulled down righty tighty most coverin' my eye - A hippie got in my face and called me and killer - -

So...I killed him!

(tape recording ends)

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