Amish trial: Jury gets case, deliberations start Thursday

4:59 PM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- The jury now has the case and is going home for the day, will begin deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday

U.S. District Judge Daniel Polster gave the jury instructions and U.S. Attorneys began their closing arguments just before 10:15 a.m. Wednesday.

The defense began their closing arguments just after 11:30 a.m. and the last of the 16 defense attorneys is wrapping up his closing argument.

5:55 p.m. Jury got the case and immediately decided to end for the day and begin deliberations at 9 a.m. Thursday.

5:03 p.m. Prosecutor Bridget Brennan begins the government's rebuttal of what the 16 defense attorneys have said. Judge has given the government 30 minutes.

4:09 p.m. Defense attorney Edward Bryan begins the final defense closing argument. Bryan represents Samuel Mullet Sr, the leader of the Bergholz clan.

The defendants are 10 bearded, Amish men, all dressed alike, and six Amish women.

Seated in the gallery are four rows of Amish men and women, ranging in age from early 20s to well into their 60s.

They are almost divided equally in their support -- half are there to support Mullet and the Bergholz clan members, while others are there in support of the government's prosecution.

4 p.m. The second-to-last defense attorney is presenting his closing argument. Last to speak will be Samuel Mullet Sr.'s attorney Edwardv Bryan. Polster has allowed Bryan to speak for 45 minutes, more than the 15 minutes each other attorney was allowed.

The prosecutors also will have a chance to rebut anything the 16 defense attorneys have said. Jury may or may not get the case at the end of the day.

2:45 p.m. Several other defense attorneys continue to present their closing arguments for their clients.

2 p.m. Defense attorney Rhonda Klotnik represents Kathryn Miller and she, too, also said that her client was just a bystander. Next was attorney George Pappas, who said his client Emma Miller was also just a bystander.

1:02 p.m. Defense attorney Wesley Dumas Sr, attorney for Raymond Miller, began his closing, saying that Raymond didn't attack his parents over religious reasons but because "they were bad parents....had emotionally hurt their children over the years...and that (Bishop) Sam Mullet "...was as surprised as the rest of them when Raymond and the others carried out the attacks...they were just trying to change their parents' attitude towards them..."

Next was Gary Levine, attorney for Freeman Burkholder, who said that these were not criminal acts, but that "...anything that Freeman was involved with had nothing to do with religion...."

Then it was David Jack's turn, the attorney for Lovina Miller. He said his client was six and seven months pregnant during the time the attacks occured and was not really involved in the attacks, but was more of a bystander.

"The government is trying to 'bootstrap' my client into these incidents..." Jack said.

12:03 p.m. Judge Daniel Polster calls for a lunch break until 1 p.m. after two defense attorneys presented their closing arguments.

11:31 a.m. Defense attorneys begin their closing arguments. Each will have 15 minutes, and Polster asked then to keep their comments "from being repetitive."

Defense attorney James Gentile, attorney for Eli MIller, was first to present. An attorney tells WKYC during the morning break that Edward Bryan, attorney for alleged ringleader Samuel Mullet Sr., will be the last to present his closing argument.

11:15 a.m. Prosecution's Kristy L. Parker finishes the prosecution's closing argument. Polster declares a 15-minute break before the defense begins its closing arguments. 

10:09 a.m. Prosecutors begin their closing arguments.

Prosecutors say that the victims had their "homes invaded in the dead or night...or were lured down to Bergholz under the guise of reconciliation...."

They said the "defendants laughed and joked" about the attacks, even going so far as taking pictures of the attacks and the victims after the attacks.

Prosecutors said the defendants "...believe they were above the law...that the law didn't apply to them because this was about religion....and that they had a special right to do what they did because they were Amish and this was a religious issue..."

Polster has given prosecutors 90 minutes for their closing arguments.

Polster is giving the 16 defense attorneys about four and a half hours for their closing arguments, which translates into about 20 minutes per defense attorney.

All 16 defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit religiously motivated assaults.

The conspiracy names Bishop Samuel Mullet Sr., 66, the leader of a breakaway Amish sect known as the Bergholz clan, as the "ringleader" who encouraged the other 15 Amish men and women to take "revenge" on other Amish who disagreed with the Bergholz clan's beliefs.

Sixteen Amish men and women were charged by federal prosecutors with federal hate crimes for their involvement in the hair- and beard-cutting of other Amish.

The trial got underway Aug. 28. One juror in the 12-person jury was dismissed after repeatedly falling asleep. That juror was replaced last week with one of the four alternate jurors.

Related story: Amish hair-cutting trial gets underway

Related story: Witness says she was made to have sex with Amish bishop

Evidence presented in Amish trial

Bergholz is the name of the village where Mullet Sr. has his family compound.

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