Prosecutors in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor set about methodically introducing the evidence in support of their case yesterday. The best narrative of the events in court is the Chao Xiong/Libor Jany Star Tribune article. See also the Jon Collins/Riham Feshir MPR report. I want briefly to summarize what went down and note the highlight of the testimony and other evidence in summary fashion. I continue to urge readers to check the #Noortrial hashtag on Twitter under Latest.
• I devoted substantial attention to Judge Quaintance’s order limiting public access to part of the bodycam evidence that she anticipated admitting during the trial. Indeed, she deemed the evidence “crucial.” I did not think that this order could stand, to put it mildly. Local press covering trial banded together in a group called the Media Coalition to challenge the order. Judge Quaintance has now filed a thoughtful 25-page order and memorandum opinion climbing down from the ledge onto which she had crawled out. She has gracefully expressed her sober second thoughts in light of the controlling case law.
• I have been getting up at 4:00 a.m. to write up my trial summaries and arrive at court early enough to snag one of the coveted public seats in the trial courtroom. I have contended with the court for a reserved media seat in the courtroom and spared readers the penultimate chapter of my contention with the court. However, I am not withholding the good news that as of today Power Line has been assigned a reserved media seat along with the New York Times and the Associated Press. Woo hoo! Now I don’t have to arrive an hour before the proceedings begin, as I did yesterday, to get into the courtroom.
• It’s a good thing I made it into the courtroom yesterday. The prosecution introduced audio clips of Justine’s 911 calls and, most importantly, photographic evidence of the crime scene after Justine’s killing (which would not be visible on the video set up on the overflow courtroom).
• The prosecutors called these witnesses: from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (the BCA)–Andrew DuBord (digital forensic examiner), from the City of Minneapolis–Scott Peterson (senior applications analyst in the IT Department), from the BCA–Special Agent Adam Castilleja, from the Hennepin County Office of Medical Examiner–Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Lorren Jackson, from the BCA–forensic scientist Joe Cooksley. These were all credible and impressive witnesses.
• The prosecution introduced more than 100 photographs of the crime scene through the BCA witnesses.
• In his opening statement defense counsel Peter Wold set the scene in the alley as a possible ambush of the officers. He made it sound like the alley was dark as a dungeon.
• I was astounded to learn that the alley is lit by streetlights. Justine was shot by Noor under a streetlight at the end of the alley. In his cross-examination of Adam Castilleja, defense counsel Tom Plunkett made the point that one couldn’t read a book by the light cast by the streetlight; the light is too dim. One could only recognize the face of someone you knew.
• I have no idea of the impact on the jury, but the photographs of the alley undercut a key defense theme. From my perspective, this was the highlight of yesterday’s evidence, and it was a big one.