Friday, July 13, 2007

Trial begins in the slaying of Edgar Garzon

Duncan Osborne at Gay City News and Ikimulisa Livingston at the New York Post cover the opening statements in a trial to determine whether John L. McGhee killed my friend Edgar Garzon in the summer of 2001.

"I will prove to you that this defendant did this because Mr. Garzon was a gay man and he made the mistake of hitting on this defendant," said prosecutor Karen Ross representing the Queens District Attorney's office.

McGhee was arrested in June of 2006 upon returning from the UK based on a statement given by a witness who came forward a year after the attack and statements made later by people close to McGhee.

According to the Post, Defense lawyer Charles Abercrombie said McGhee is innocent and pointed out that there "is no DNA evidence, no fingerprints and no weapons connecting McGhee to the crime."

Despite attempts from Abercrombie to have the judge limit the testimony of Leonor Garzon, Edgar's mother, to simply identifying her son in a photo, Ms. Garzon gave moving testimony as she weeped on the stand. Quoting from Gay City News:
Before Leonor testified, and with the jury out of the courtroom, Abercrombie asked that she be limited to identifying Edgar from his hospital photos and she not be allowed to discuss his life or achievements.

"The character of the victim is not an issue in this case," he told Robert J. Hanophy, the judge in the case. Ross and Hanophy agreed.

Questioned by Ross, Leonor went on at length about Edgar's work as a film editor, restaurant owner, and set designer. He was "very creative," she said. She wept when asked about first seeing Edgar in the hospital.

"His face had no shape at all," Leonor said through a translator. "I kept talking to him and I was afraid to kiss him."

When Ross asked, "Did he respond to you at all?" Leonor burst into tears and said only "No, no."

While Abercrombie could have objected, given the earlier agreement with the prosecutor and the judge, interrupting a weeping mother's testimony could anger the jury. It was only when Ross paused to introduce two hospital photos of Edgar that Abercrombie got a discussion out of the jury's hearing and Leonor was dismissed from the stand.

Hanophy later told the jury that both sides had agreed that Leonor had identified Edgar.

With the jury out of the courtroom, Abercrombie asked for a mistrial or that the jury be told to ignore Leonor's testimony. Hanophy denied both motions.
Trial resumes on Monday.

Previously on Blabbeando:

1 comment:

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