New Defense Witnesses Raise Some Eyebrows
The defendants offered their witness list, and not surprising, several of the expert witnesses who made star turns during the criminal trial last year are returning. Moreover, the expert witness list notes how the defendants hope to shore up their weaknesses that the criminal trial highlighted. Even so, what the list does show — even if it is just brinkmanship at this point — is that the defense intends to fight the case with every weapon available to them.
While Henry Lee does not make a return to Moultrie Courthouse, his opinions will be back from the professionals at Englert Forensic Consultants — Rod Englert and Cherly Kanzer. Englert is expected to testify that the evidence is consistent with Robert being stabbed in the bed, and with the blood flowing out of his body. He will also take up the issue that the knife found at the crime scene was not a plant since the blood pattern evidence is not consistent with it being wiped.
For astute commenter Hoya Loya, Englert and Kanzer made him pause. Why? Because they are based in Portland, where so-called lead counsel for Dylan Ward, Ralph Spooner is located. “Either they are from Dylan’s lawyer’s stable of reliable experts or on Dylan’s father’s payroll or both” and could cause credibility issues with a jury. In case the jury is suspect of these expert witnesses, the defense is bringing heavy-weight Vincent DiMaio to back up their opinions.
Next up is another new witness, Donald Ostermeyer, who will opine about the validity of the Ashley’s Reagant and its ability to detect if blood stains where wiped from the wall. This is an interesting choice for the defense since it is well known by both sides in the criminal trial that the application of the Ashley’s Reagant was not properly applied, thus nullifying any of its results. The fact Ostermeyer is on the list may indicate they feel this is an issue they will need to beat back with a trial before a jury as well as a lower threshold for a decision. More witnesses after the jump.
Alan Lipman from Georgetown University is another new addition to the witness list and looks to be so as a direct result of the findings of Judge Leibovitz in the criminal trial. While the prosecution in the criminal case only argued that the content of the interrogation videos — such as the consistency of their stories, and the changing memories after the “Mercedes” meeting — it is the Judge who went directly at their behavior in her decision. Judge Leibovitz noted, “Some of the most persuasive evidence in the record supporting the government’s position is the demeanor and conduct of the defendants.” Lipman will be on hand for the civil trial to beat back the idea that there in “no correct” or “acceptable” way to judge someone’s behavior who has witnessed a traumatic event.
To round things out, the defense brings back discredited fiber-expert Nicolas Petraco, as well George Washington University Emergency Room Director Jeffery and Andrew Wechsler, a cardiac surgeon, the same profession as Needham Ward, Dylan Ward’s father.
Overall though, Hoya Loya notes that this is a civil case, with preponderance of evidence being the threshold — the plaintiff must only show that it has the greater weight of the evidence and that its version of events is more likely than that of the defense. This is unlike the criminal case where the standard was BARD and evidence of the possibilty of an intruder could have been enough to derail the prosecution, though not even Judge Liebowitz was not convinced by the defense on that point.
Covington and Regan will likely rely heavily on medical evidence and documented evidence relating to the defendants to make their case, not on evidence stemming from the botched MPD investigation. If they make their case, the defense needs to present evidence that an intruder was more likely, not that evidence of an intruder was missed or overlooked, so experts who challenge the competency of the police investigation may be less relevant to the civil case.