Defense Team For Accused Cops In Kelly Thomas Murder Trial Shows Desperation

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Photo by R. Scott Moxley
2011 protester expresses displeasure with Fullerton cops who killed Kelly Thomas
There's no doubt that on the night of July 5, 2011, Fullerton Police Department Corporal Jay Cicinelli topped an already restrained Kelly Thomas and repeatedly slammed the butt of a Taser gun into his face.

Nobody honest can claim Cicinelli is innocent of the vicious, needless assault on the unarmed, 37-year-old, homeless man, who within minutes would fall silent on his way to death with multiple facial fractures after cops erroneously concluded he'd stolen mail and pulled on car door handles in a parking lot.

In addition to the video evidence, an audio recording captured him bragging to the other five officers as they stood over Thomas' bloody, unconscious body without rending a second of medical aid that he'd "smashed [Thomas'] face to hell."

Given Cicinelli's unconscionable, ham-fisted style of policing, it's not surprising that the man defending him against an involuntary manslaughter charge would eagerly play the role of bully in the ongoing trial inside Orange County's central courthouse.

Criminal defense lawyer Michael Schwartz--once a prime member of an Upland-based, cop union law firm that collapsed in an ethical scandal earlier this year--has finesse skills in his courtroom quiver. I know this fact because I've witnessed him for hours in other, unrelated cases. But for some reason Schwartz has decided to play stereotypical, obnoxious, truth-trampling lawyer in the Kelly Thomas murder trial.

In his Dec. 2 opening statement, Schwartz committed a blunder you'd expect from a nervous, rookie lawyer by tossing away his credibility during the first two minutes of his presentation.

He described Thomas as a "220-pound," hulking monster that put fear in the group of heavily armed, veteran cops.

"[Thomas] was not small," Schwartz told jurors. "He was not meek."

But the 220-pound assertion wasn't just a bald-faced lie. It was easy to disprove. For example, the video doesn't show a skinny Thomas close to that weight and a paramedic at the scene of the killing confidently testified under oath that the victim's weight was about 160 pounds, maybe less.

How Schwartz grabbed his 220-pound claim underscores the desperation of the defense team, which includes lawyer John Barnett on behalf of Manuel Ramos, the cop who began the incident with Thomas by saying his fists were going "to fuck him up."

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Arrested Fullerton police officer Manny Ramos
Cicinelli's lawyer had to know that District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and fellow prosecutors Jim Tanizaki and Keith Bogardus would pounce and embarrass him, which is what happened.

To tell his opening statement lie, Schwartz used the weight the coroner's office listed for Thomas' corpse and ignored the video and statements by the paramedic.

But one round of elementary questioning proved the autopsy weight was meaningless and Schwartz's use of it was a shameless hoax worthy of a fifth-grade fibber.

Here's reality: The coroner's staff placed Thomas' mauled body on a scale when it arrived from UCI Medical Center a week after the killing. It was wrapped in a body bag. Stuffed inside the bag were soiled medical equipment used by trauma doctors. According to unchallenged testimony, those physicians had flooded Thomas with several gallons of fluid in futile efforts to save him.

During yesterday's rebuttal phase portion of the trial, a theatrically angry Schwartz shifted the subject of his trickery in hopes of leading jurors to believe another perversion of the truth.

Without a shred of evidence, he implied well-respected, veteran doctors Anthony Juguilon and Aruna Singhania from the Orange County coroner's office fabricated that the cause of death was the savage, seven-minute police attack on Thomas.

According to Schwartz, Juguilon and Singhania doctored the official cause of death in a conspiracy with Rackauckas. Their alleged motive? The doctors' contract to perform autopsies is up in January and they want to please, in the lawyer's sinister words, "the County of Orange" by lying under oath, giving a false cause of death and winning a renewed four-year contract.

In one of the greatest suspensions of reality ever in a courthouse, the defense team asserts the cop beating of Thomas had nothing to do with the death. They claim that either paramedics accidentally killed the victim during rescue efforts in the ambulance or that Thomas killed himself by "overexertion" during the incident. And I've got a new bridge to sell you.

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Media pool photo by The Orange County Register
Schwartz
Whether jurors see through cheap lawyer stunts is unknown. Superior Court Judge William R. Froeberg dismissed the panel for the holidays. Rebuttal testimony from the prosecution is expected to resume on Jan. 6.

See also: The Complete Kelly Thomas Killing Archives

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.


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28 comments
paradisepugs5
paradisepugs5

Cops are not here to protect the people - They are here to protect the government write tickets and arrest code breakers - Former police officer - Retired - As a former police officer, I hope both of these deformed punks get killed or commit suicide ...

citizenactivist
citizenactivist

Alexj774 and fc2479 and what two police departments do you 

two goons work at?  Anyone just watching the video can tell

the union lawyer actually IS a liar. Scott is telling exacty what

is true.  Forgot, you boys don't roll that way do you. Cowards

alexj774
alexj774

What a waste !  Write an informative article and not your pointless worthless opinion!

zazzarapeter
zazzarapeter

I homes If these cops go to jail they are finished the home boys are going to fuck them up

ginajeter76
ginajeter76

Just some of the statements from the Kelly Thomas video.

Statements by Kelly Thomas- I'm sorry dude, Help, sir, please, my legs are broken, I can't breathe, daddy, they're killing me, here dude, dad help me."

Cops-"He's still fighting, there's f***ing blood everywhere, he's going to sleep, he sh*t himself, he got hit in the head, I smashed his face to hell, I don't see any rise and fall, HE"S NEVER KNOWN TO BE VIOLENT."

Don Gotti
Don Gotti

Every time I see him, he reminds me of an evil version of Guillermo from jimmy kimmel.

carleo
carleo

Scumbag lawyers that defend pedo cops...they dont care about justice and the truth...they only care about their blood money!!   Justice for Kelly-Jail Killer Cops!!

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

If those thugs are found "Not Guilty" I'd call for an immediate investigation into jury tampering.

dickbubkus
dickbubkus

@paradisepugs5 When did the "department" you worked for finally realize you were a nut and let you go?  Was it during your probation period? I suppose those who get a psych retirement are technically "retired", but we all know better.  You slipped through the cracks and bamboozled the supervision for a few months and then.........bye-bye.  Sounds like you.

bphood
bphood

@alexj774I know your dad my do some time here little boy but he is a murderer that acted under the color of authority...I know you may not understand now but after your daddy is in prison and your parents divorce in final...she will tell you the truth about you murderous father and how he made her skin crawl after she saw the video

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@alexj774 You're the same brilliant specimen that previously claimed Fullerton police officers are instructed by policy to omit important information from official reports. That was so lame it was funny! Please know: I really do appreciate that while you and fc2479 bark from a cowardly perch you boys also rush to OCWeekly.com each day to read every word I write. Thanks!

fc2479
fc2479

@zazzarapeter Ha haha....them home boys have been doing a good job as police targets in Anaheim....ha ha ha

dickbubkus
dickbubkus

@ginajeter76 You forgot Kelly:  "Start punching dude."  "Do you like my balls?" Cops: "Quit resisting."  "Put your hands behind your back." "Relax."  All he had to do was any of the three last statements....any one of them.  But, no, he wanted to fight them to the end, despite his statements during the struggle.  Six girlscouts could have killed him in three minutes.  The fact that it took six minutes tells me they didn't use enough force to get him to comply.  Again, he could have complied at any time but didn't.

bphood
bphood

@fc2479@zazzarapeterhow much starch is in that ss uniform of yours? I bet you have at least four restraining orders against you all from people you claim to love...

zazzarapeter
zazzarapeter

In Kelly's case it's Strait up murder and Cowardly he was a small dude not like some guys 6'3" 230 what happened to Serve and protect I thought that was the Lapds code

Whatever

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