Jury could begin deliberating in Danziger trial as early as Wednesday

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 29, 2011 at 9:22 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 29 at 5:18 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS -- The Danziger trial is expected to be in the hands of the jury by the middle of next week.

Friday, attorneys wrapped up the evidence phase of the police shooting case. When the jury of seven men and five women decide the verdicts, they do so after hearing five weeks of testimony from 63 witnesses.

Lekeisha Smith of Carrollton, Texas was one of the last witnesses to take the stand. That's the name of a witness in the original NOPD crime report who supposedly saw civilians fire on police.

Prosecutors had argued that Smith and another witness were manufactured by defendant Archie Kaufman to help justify the post-Katrina shooting of six people on the bridge. This Lekeisha Smith testified that her family did live just blocks from the bridge, but she lived in the Uptown neighborhood before the storm.

Smith also testified she evacuated for the storm and was not in New Orleans the day of the shooting.

"We know there is a Lekeisha Smith," said former prosecutor and WWL-TV Danziger legal analyst Chick Foret. "The question is, did she see anything on the Danziger Bridge and did she talk to Kaufman? She said today that neither of those is correct."

State Police Lt. Todd Wood also testified. Wood told the jury he didn't see the shooting, but helped search for a suspect. He said the suspect was later captured and identified as Lance Madison, the brother of a man killed by police, 40-year-old Ronald Madison.

That rebutted a defense claim that police chased a rifle-toting man into a nearby motel and lost him.

Lance Madison was never prosecuted for any crime and was not found in possession of a weapon.

Wood also admitted he was ordered to patrol the city because of widespread criminal activity and gun fire after the storm.

"He was helpful to the defense in the standpoint that he painted the chaotic scene that existed, right after Katrina," said Foret.

Foret said since this is such a complicated case, with 25 counts and five defendants, it could take a while for the jury to come back with a verdict.

"I don't anticipate that they'll be quick about this," said Foret. "They've been very diligent in their note taking. They've been prompt every time the judge has asked them to be here, they've been on time. I think they're going to give this case its due diligence."

Here's the Danziger trial schedule for next week:

Monday, attorneys and the judge will work on the final jury instructions, verdict form and other legal matters.

Tuesday is set aside for closing arguments.

The jury is expected to begin deliberating on Wednesday.

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