See Update No. 2 at the end of this post on former deputy David Lloyd Cass being due back in court regarding the deadlocked counts. Update No. 1 was on the jury acquitting him of a bribery charge and having jurors deadlock on a second bribery count and a charge of being an accessory after the fact.
ORIGINAL POST, JULY 8, 7:45 A.M.: After enduring an eight-plus-hour, closing argument from a hard-charging defense lawyer representing a former Orange County deputy accused in a jailhouse bribery scam, Senior Deputy District Attorney Aleta Bryant stood and, though clearly relieved at the chance to finally speak, remained silent.
Instead, Bryant slowly scanned the faces of the eight women and four men on a jury that had listened to a near endless, blistering attack on alleged weakness of the government’s case by Lewis Rosenblum, defense attorney for defendant David Lloyd Cass.
Bryant’s somewhat disjointed, opening statement several weeks ago wasn’t her best work, but she gained confidence at the end of the trial.
When she finally spoke after the defense rested, the prosecutor didn’t contain her indignation.
Bryant called Rosenblum’s work “a distraction and a smokescreen” from, as she sees it, the unassailable, documented willingness of Cass to allow Stephenson Choi Kim, a sociopath killer inmate, secret privileges–sex dates, special cuisine, personal cell phone use and drug access–in exchange for bribes.
Rosenblum’s strategy, she declared, should be called the “look away defense.”
In his final hour addressing the jury, the defense attorney–a former, high-ranking prosecutor–posted four charts with his handwritten points outlining 50 reasons jurors should find “reasonable doubt” in the state’s case.
Bryant was not impressed, particularly on Rosenblum’s charges that she’d been unethical.
“I’m not making things up,” she said, and then reminded jurors of transcript details that support her claims.
Bryant accused her courtroom opponent of slyly bolstering his arguments by using only portions of witness statements or by taking complete statements out of context.
While acknowledging Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) jail operations have been embarrassingly incompetent, the prosecutor also defended the department’s investigation into how Kim possessed illegal contraband in his cell, a fact uncovered during a New Year’s Ever 2011 raid.
OCSD Investigator James Karr concluded that Cass–who had extensive, suspicious phone and email contact with Kim’s sex partner–aided the couple’s exploits, including a drug smuggling operation as well as potentially 30 dates involving anal, oral and vaginal sex in the jail’s public visitor’s area.
Incredibly, the inmate–who is now serving a 300-year prison sentence for a vicious, gang-related, mass shooting in Cypress–and Ha Duc Nguyen, his wife, shot iPhone porno videos inside the jail supposedly without on-duty deputies knowing.
On a jail phone line recorded by OCSD, Nguyen–a college graduate who taught English in Japan and lost her virginity to Kim in the jail visitor’s area–repeatedly urged the killer to defecate in her mouth during a visit because she thought the experience would be “hot.”
To Rosenblum–who introduced the defecation evidence, Cass has been unfairly charged because Kim and Nguyen are deranged liars, but Bryant wouldn’t concede any point of contention.
“View the defense arguments with extreme caution,” she advised the citizens’ panel.
Jurors will begin deliberations today inside Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue’s 11th floor, Santa Ana courtroom.
If convicted, Cass–who has served the country as a U.S. Marine–could face several years in state prison.
Kim wasn’t punished for his jail crimes and Nguyen, who has admitted guilt, is hoping her aid to Bryant will convert a potential prison punishment of decades into her release from custody on July 25.
She told jurors she broke up with Kim in January.
UPDATE NO. 1, JULY 10, 12:10 P.M.: Jurors this morning acquitted former Orange County sheriff’s deputy David Lloyd Cass of one bribery charge.
The jury also deadlocked on a second bribery count and a charge of being an accessory after the fact.
UPDATE NO. 2, JULY 10, 3:47 P.M.: David Lloyd Cass is due back in court in Santa Ana on Aug. 8, when the possibility of retrying him on a bribery count and accessory charge will be discussed.
Jurors deliberated about two days before deadlocking 7-5 in favor of acquittal on the bribery count involving tickets to a Los Angeles Kings hockey game and a gift card, and 8-4 for acquittal on the accessory-after-the-fact. The jury voted unanimously to acquit on the bribery count involving seeking introductions to women and being given VIP treatment at coffee houses where waitresses were scantily dressed.
“I’m very grateful for the verdict,” defense attorney Lew Rosenblum told City News Service’s Paul Anderson. “Half the case is gone now … and a majority of jurors believe my client did nothing wrong.”
Deputy District Attorney Aleta Bryant declined to comment on whether a new trial will be sought, Anderson also reported. The prosecutor had argued Cass had done what no other deputy assigned to the jail had: “turning out the lights so Stephenson Choi Kim and his legal-runner/wife could have sexual relations.”
Rosenblum claimed Kim’s wife Ha Duc Nguyen lied under oath to win a plea deal from prosecutors in pleading guilty to trying to help her husband escape from custody, drug sales to another inmate and bribing a law enforcement official.