Jury deliberations begin in trial of 3 St. Louis police officers
Two former officers and one current officer are in federal prison up to 10 years ago
ST. LOUIS – The 2017 jury that will decide the fate of three officers accused of beating a colleague undercover as a protester has begun its deliberations.
Former St. Louis officers Dustin Boone, Christopher Myers and current officer Steven Korte have been charged with disenfranchising official Luther Hall under the color of the law, which carries a maximum 10 year sentence.
They were also all accused of assisting in the commission of a crime.
Myers was also charged with destruction of evidence for allegedly deliberately destroying Hall’s phone to cover up evidence of the beating and to hamper the investigation. And Korte was also accused of lying to the FBI for allegedly telling them he wasn’t part of the arrest.
The second and third counts that all men face carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. All four counts have a maximum fine of $ 250,000.
The process began with the selection of the jury on March 15th, which created a great source of tension between prosecutors, judges and defense lawyers.
The three defendants are white. Hall is black. Defense attorneys used their strikes to set up an all-white jury – a move prosecutors declined to say there was a racist component to this case.
Since then, a black woman who was in the vice pool has been added to the jury after one of the original jurors had a personal emergency and was fired on Tuesday.
Attorney Scott Rosenblum ended his final argument on Thursday, saying his client did not believe anything was wrong with Hall’s arrest. So he had no way of knowing that there was going to be an investigation for which he should destroy the phone. He also claimed that Myers put Hall’s phone in Hall’s backpack when he could have tossed it in the sewer or kept it so no one could ever find it if he was really trying to destroy evidence.
Korte’s attorney, John Rogers, also closed his final argument on Thursday, saying his client was indicted about a year after the first four officers were indicted and labeled the prosecutor’s evidence against him as “junk”.
Boone’s attorney Patrick Kilgore ended his final arguments on Friday and spent much of his time explaining the connection to malicious text messages his client sent to his father and Hall after the attack.
In one, Boone tried to apologize to Hall.
“When you see the apology that Boone sent to Hall, it’s not out of fear of indictment or legal trouble, it’s sincere,” Kilgore said. “And I understand Hall said he didn’t respond because he said he didn’t feel it was sincere, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t sent without sincerity.”
Boone also texted his father, a retired officer, who said he heard his son gave Hall a good “(expletive) whooping cough.”
“Yeah, it’s not one I’m proud of,” Boone replied.
Kilgore said the text was taken out of context.
“As the son of a cop, it’s talking to cops, it’s brave, it’s teen, it’s immature, but it’s talking to cops, and it’s a coping mechanism,” Kilgore said. “You would be horrified if you read texts between doctors and surgeons and searched them out at any point in time.
“Don’t accept that, don’t take what the government is offering you, that is, ‘Here are texts expressing his disdain for protesters’ and say,’ OK, he must have attacked Hall because he was there. You can’t, the law doesn’t allow that. “
Kilgore also said the photos and video evidence presented during the trial show that his client was not around Hall during the attack.
He continued, “He’s not on trial for sending text messages. He’s here because the government said he violated Hall’s civil rights. “
First assistant US attorney, Carrie Costantin, was given around 45 minutes to counter-argument, during which she, too, recorded the text messages Boone and Myers sent to various people before and after the event.
“He didn’t say,” I’m not proud of what YOU have done, “he said,” I’m not proud of what I did, “said Costantin.
She continued, “Text messages get into someone’s head. Other officers thought, why do I have to be here? But Myers is having a good time. He says, “For some sick reason, I live for it.”
“He’s pumped up about it. He is excited to beat up protesters. “
She read another text Myers had sent to a friend that read, “I wanted to apologize to him for feeling bad. We obviously didn’t know he was a cop.”
“He didn’t mean to beat up a policeman,” said Costantin. “It would be okay to beat up a protester, but it would not be okay to be a cop.”
The jury began its deliberations on Friday around 10:30 a.m.