State, de­fense rests; clos­ing ar­gu­ments de­liv­ered to­day

The Covington News - - Front page - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

The ev­i­dence in the death penalty trial against ac­cused mur­derer Pablo Mal­don­ado rested Thurs­day af­ter­noon with­out the de­fen­dant tak­ing the stand to tes­tify.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to hours worth of recorded in­ter­views with Mal­don­ado, the state rested their case at 11:42 a.m. The de­fense be­gan bring­ing in their wit­nesses in the hope that ju­rors would agree that al­though Mal­don­ado was there when the murder oc­curred; he did not take part in the ac­tual killing of 53-yearold Tim Clements.

Af­ter sev­eral men­tions throughout the trial of a U-Haul rental and a man named Jonathan Har­ris (aka J-Dawg) and his girl­friend, ju­rors fi­nally heard from a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of U-Haul. She con­firmed that Har­ris’ girl­friend at the time of the murder had rented a U-Haul cargo van for one day on June 12, 2009 – the day Clements was killed – and didn’t re­turn it un­til June 16, 2009 – with over 400 miles driven in four days. The de­fense has ques­tioned the state’s wit­nesses on sev­eral oc­ca­sions as to whether or not this truck could have been used to dis­pose of Clements’ lawn equip­ment, the ma­jor­ity of which has never been re­cov­ered. The ex­act van could not be in­ves­ti­gated, since it was sold at auc­tion in Septem­ber 2009.

The de­fense also called Mike An­der­son, a one-time friend and self-pro­claimed men­tor of Mal­don­ado. An­der­son lived in the same apart­ment com­plex as Mal­don­ado’s sis­ter and met him there in 2008. It wasn’t un­usual for Mal­don­ado to come by and chat with An­der­son, but when he ar­rived on June 12, 2009 with three other peo­ple (iden­ti­fied by An­der­son as Har­ris Chris­tian Cald­well and Brit­tney Beasley), he said that Mal­don­ado was “ner­vous” and “jit­tery.” While the rest of the group chat­ted, Mal­don­ado stayed silent. Even­tu­ally An­der­son took him out­side where he said, Mal­don­ado con­fessed that some­thing had hap­pened that day to Clements.

An­der­son said that Mal­don­ado told him, in courser lan­guage, that he had messed up and told

the oth­ers that Clements car­ried a large amount of money with him, and that the group had made a plan to rob his boss. He said Mal­don­ado told him that he didn’t need money but that the oth­ers had “con­vinced him to do it.”

He said Mal­don­ado was a fol­lower, not a leader, and that when he talked about what hap­pened to Clements he cried.

“He said that in the process of the rob­bery Tim turned to him and said he knew that he [Mal­don­ado] had to be a part of it,” said An­der­son, tes­ti­fy­ing that Mal­don­ado was hurt be­cause of that. He also said Mal­don­ado told him that an ar­gu­ment en­sued be­tween he and Clements and “the younger gen­tle­man [Cald­well] hit him in the back of the head twice, killing him.”

An­der­son tes­ti­fied that Mal­don­ado asked him what he should do and he told him he had three choices, “fire a bul­let in his head, be a coward and run or do the right thing by Tim and turn him­self in and tell what he’d done.” He said the last time he saw Mal­don­ado it was his un­der­stand­ing that he was go­ing to turn him­self in.

The fi­nal wit­ness for the de­fense was Roy Cooper, sworn in as an ex­pert wit­ness in foren­sic doc­u­ment ex­am­i­na­tion. Sev­eral let­ters have come up dur­ing the course of tes­ti­mony, and while co-de­fen­dants Cald­well, Beasley and Ka­tria McClain had ad­mit­ted to writ­ing some let­ters, they had de­nied writ­ing oth­ers – specif­i­cally ones that ex­on­er­ated Mal­don­ado from the murder of Clements. Cooper tes­ti­fied that af­ter com­par­ing sev­eral of the let­ters to known hand­writ­ing of Mal­don­ado’s and the co-de­fen­dants, many of the let­ters that had been de­nied had sim­i­lar­i­ties and were likely writ­ten by the co-de­fen­dants and not Mal­don­ado.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Dis­trict At­tor­ney Layla Zon, Cooper did ad­mit that he had never worked for the FBI or sim­i­lar agen­cies, though he had done work for the po­lice depart­ment in Chat­tanooga, Tenn.

The de­fense rested just af­ter 4 p.m. with Mal­don­ado elect­ing to not tes­tify in his own de­fense. The jury will hear clos­ing state­ments in the case at 9 a.m. Fri­day morn­ing in the court­room of Judge Ho­race John­son.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

Pablo Mal­don­ado is ac­cused of mur­der­ing Rock­dale land­scaper Tim Clements in June 2009.

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