Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Henry v MOA - PM - Finish Carson,, Blaylock, and Hebbe (video)

The biggest news is the judge thinks the witnesses will be over tomorrow and that the closing arguments will be Thursday morning at 8:30am, and the jury will get the case Thursday afternoon. But it's a been along complicate trial and the jury is up against a three day weekend with one juror with tickets out of state next Tuesday or Wednesday.

That's all stalling as I try to figure out what and how to write about this afternoon.  The morning is posted here.  With election news it's hard to write, but I've turned things off so I can give you a sense of the afternoon.  [Now that I'm done with this post, it seems reasonable to warn you this is my sense of things as of today.  It's my impressionistic take.]

I've been in court long enough now to get a sense of how the details fit into the overall picture.  I have no idea what the jury is thinking, but I can tell you where I am.  I really didn't know enough about the case to be rooting for one side or the other.  I knew there was a connection to the Feliciano/Kennedy case but I didn't know how.  And there was a connection to the National Guard scandal of 2013/2014.  The Brown Report was cited by the judge in that case as showing the MOA had hidden important information in an attempt to win their case. (It was hung jury the first time around and the plaintiffs won the second round.)  Was the plaintiff, Anthony Henry, who'd been terminated by APD, a good guy who got mistreated or did the APD act in good faith when they terminated him?

What I've learned is that the APD was a hot bed of problems.  There's been talk of Tony Camp and Command Camp.  There's an internal investigation unit for investigating police.  I understand a police department having a unit - preferably independent of the police - to investigate complaints by citizens.  But what I'm hearing at the trial, it was used to resolve complaints between officers.  And punishments and reprimands seem to be fairly common.

The plaintiffs started off calling witnesses and the attorneys - Ray Brown and Meg Simonian - had a story to tell and the browbeat and disparaged witnesses whose stories didn't confirm to their narrative of the case.  In in there narratives there were names we heard over and over again.  This afternoon's witnesses for the defense were villains in this narrative.

  • Jack Carson, in their narrative, set up a rogue investigation to go after the National Guard recruiter who was having an affair with his (now ex-) wife.  He filed complaint after complaint against Jason Whetsell, an officer in the canine unit, who was diagnosed with MS. 
  • Blaylock was the crazy National Guard Lt. Col who published the Blaylock Manifesto on a website  which made wild allegations about abuse of sex, drugs, and guns at the National Guard.  Henry had no use for him.  He said he was just not credible and even accused him of being a conspiracy theorist who believed in aliens.  And all his accusations turned to nothing.  
  • Steve Hebee was a former friend of Anthony Henry who had become his boss.  We learned early that he'd had an affair with Henry's wife and that they tolerated each other, but more recently he'd been one of the sources of investigations and accusations against Henry.  (When Henry testified he did explain that it had been an affair with his ex-wife and was 27 years ago and he was no happily married).
So today the jury got a chance to see them in the flesh, as they did Rick Brown yesterday.  And they turned out to be much more reasonable and credible that we'd heard.  

Carson was perhaps the least sympathetic, to me he came across as someone who wanted to be somebody, was idealistic, and who was pulled in different directions.  He was disturbed by Jason Whetsell's MS diagnoses and reported that Whetsell wasn't performing like he should.  That Tony Henry seemed to be protecting Whetsell was a problem for him.  He told us that Henry was a father figure for him.  In this very hierarchical and military like (several described it that way including attorney Ray Brown) organization, broke the rules and went behind his supervisor's back  (Henry) to pursue leads from Blaylock.  My sense was he saw this as an opportunity to break open a big case of drugs and sex parties at the National Guard.  He saw his boss tipping off the head of the National Guard who Carson believed was part of the problem and would thus cover up the problems.  Carson's story contained all these contradictions, which we already had heard about.  He didn't come off particularly well, but probably the human being on the witness stand was more sympathetic than the theoretic villain we'd been hearing about.  

Then we got Kenneth Blaylock.  The crazy didn't match what we saw.  He knew his stuff well, spoke strongly, and was able to fend off Ray Brown's questions. We learned, when he was questioned by Doug Parker, for the defense, that he'd spent time in Iraq, which we knew from Seth McMillan's testimony already.  We also learned that Gen. Katkus never had an overseas assignment.  When he got back from Iraq he was put in charge of the recruiting office, the Alaska Guard was ranked last among all US states and territories and in the nine months he was there, it had overtaken one other state.  But he reported discrepancies in financial transactions in, reported these to Katkus, and was immediately removed from his position.   Which was a plausible reason why he was suspicious of the commander, and possible a reason others with problems in the Guard went to him.  They knew he'd been punished for doing his job.  He also got called up to the General's office the very next day after a meeting APD officer Sean McMillan asked him to talk to one of the recruiters.  And disciplinary action was taken against him at that meeting when he refused to reveal the names of the women who'd confided in him.  And he knew the policy on not revealing the names of victims, and the plaintiff's lawyers never challenged him on that.  We know that if he were wrong on this we would have seen the policy up on the screen.  
He was also able to clear up the allegations we'd heard earlier that he brought many victims to meet a phony FBI agent in Spenard.   [From my rough courtroom notes - regular warning here - these are clearly not verbatim, but get the gist.]

Parker:  In this report there is a discussion about allegation that you took a victim to someone impersonating an FBI agent.
Blaaylock:  Bill Fulton, said I could take someone to his office any time.
P:  How did this happen?
B:  Victim talked to me briefly was nervous.  I said lets go to Appleby’s, but she did't was to talk  in public area  We went to his office to talk.  Her fiancé's  there too.  He was in Natl Guard.  She’s wearing an ankle monitor.  Mr. Fulton was a bounty hunter,   Saw her, punched her name in his computer and gave her a pep talk [I think about he could help her.]  He left the room.
P:  Did he have any association with the FBI,
There was an objection and sidebar, and then this resumed
P:  Col Blaylock, the sum total of visit to Bill Fulton’s office is you interview the victim?
B:  yes.
P:  Did you claim he was an FBI agent?
B: No.
P:   Did he?
B:  No.
P:   Ultimately the FBI  said there was no evidence there?
B:  Right.  
In cross exam, RB tried to catch Blaylock lying because there was a discrepancy in what he said today and in the FBI report.  But Blaylock said the FBI agents wrote the report and it was their account, not his (Blaylock's).  He never verified or signed that report.  

The Blaylock we saw in court was very different than the one that had been portrayed, and he was adept at avoiding Ray Brown's verbal traps.  

Finally we got Deputy Chief Steve Hebee. This was a video of his deposition with the plaintiff's Meg Simonian.  And it was offered by the defense.  Hebee came across to me as thoughtful, sincere, and very reasonable.  He, like Plummber (previous post) just wanted to find a way to get Henry cooled off and back on his game as a very good police officer.  

It starts off (these are excerpts of the deposition, so it didn't start at the beginning) talking about the high tension level as the APD is dealing with the Israel Keyes case and the time trying to find the 18 year old barista who'd been abducted.  Simonian says something about this being a high profile case.  Simonian argues that was the last thing on his mind. 
Hebee:  Don’t know if high profile, it was high stress.  Wasn’t looking at profile,  worried about 18 year old girl.  Very stressful, demoralizing, and brutally tragic.
Simonian:  News every day?
H:  yes.  
It was in the middle of all this that Tony Henry is reacting badly about Jason Whetsell's being returned to the canine unit full time from the SAU.
Hebee can't understand how in the big picture - with this murder case going on - how Henry is being so difficult about moving a dog and his handler back to his original unit  - the canine unit.

He talks about how he'd wanted someone he could trust and asked Henry to take over the crime unit and with it the Keyes investigation.  It was an important case and he wanted Henry because he got along well with the FBI with whom the APD were working on the case.  He said he knew it had been discussed with Henry, but they hadn't told him in advance because it never occurred to him that it would be a problem.  He acknowledge they should have  talked to him but again talked about all the stuff going on at the time, particularly the Keyes case.

The image I saw wasn't an evasive witness who callously treated Henry.  He had a strong regard for Henry and he was disappointed at what was happening with Henry.

Hebee and Plummer (previous post) combined was a powerful counter to the repeated stories we had heard of the isolated and backbiting Command that was seeking to retaliate against Henry.

I think we have some more video deposition of Steve Payne and some video to clear up some concern of the plaintiff's attorney tomorrow

I'd note that the plaintiff's attorney's have been hampered by a time restriction.  The court allots both sides an equal amount of time.  The plaintiffs burned through theirs at a faster rate than the defense.  So the judge ruled the other day that there cross could be, at most, 50% of the time of the defense's direct.  That was not something Brown handled well.  He did request that the judge explain to the jury why they were going so fast in a way that didn't prejudice their side.  So the jury knows, but I know they would have worked over Blaylock much more if they'd had more time.

That's the best I can do.  Closing arguments are scheduled tentatively for Thursday morning for anyone who wants to see these players live.  

You can get to an index of all posts on this trial at the Henry v MOA tab under the blog header at top.  Or click here. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.