Defense rests abruptly in L.A. beating trial 3 of 4 defendants decline to testify

April 02, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- In a stunning development, defense attorneys in the Rodney King beating trial abruptly rested their cases, raising the possibility that the case could go to the jury as early as next week.

Lawyers for Officer Theodore Briseno and former Los Angeles Police Department Officer Timothy Wind -- who have maintained the lowest profiles of the four defendants -- rested yesterday with neither Officer Briseno nor Mr. Wind taking the stand in their own defense.

The attorney for Officer Laurence Powell, who also did not testify, rested his case a day earlier. Sgt. Stacy Koon's defense ended earlier. He was the only defendant to testify.

In another development yesterday, U.S. District Judge John Davies said he would allow the prosecution to introduce an edited videotape of Officer Briseno's testimony in last year's state trial as part of its rebuttal case.

Attorneys for the officers vowed to seek an emergency writ from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to prohibit the jury from seeing the videotaped testimony, which they admitted was potentially damaging to their clients.

"It's unprecedented . . . it's unconstitutional sandbagging," complained Harland Braun, Officer Briseno's attorney.

The sequestered jury of eight men and four women was dismissed until Monday to allow attorneys for both sides to try to come up with a version of the government-edited videotape acceptable to both sides.

Coming one day after Michael Stone, Officer Powell's attorney, brought his case to a sudden end by not calling Officer Powell to the stand, the quick finish by the defense appeared to take federal prosecutors by surprise -- which Mr. Braun contended was deliberate.

Mr. Braun, who had told lead prosecutor Steven Clymer he had a 10-person witness list and then called none of them, said outside court that he "just wanted to keep Clymer up to 3 in the morning."

"They can't deal with surprise," Mr. Braun said. "His is a political prosecution . . . I assume [the prosecutors] are scum, and I treat them as scum."

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