Friday, June 17, 2011

Trial of the empty chair

Due process demands the presence of a defendant at every proceeding and at every phase of his or her the trial.

Unless, of course, they decide to absent themselves from it all.

Trial continues after defendant disappears
Helotes contractor doesn't return to court after lunch.
By Craig Kapitan - Express-News

As jurors heard closing arguments Thursday afternoon in the felony theft trial of Helotes businessman Bruce Merryman, one key part of the proceedings seemed to be missing: Bruce Merryman.

Jurors deliberated for about an hour and a half before going home for the evening. They will return to the 175th state District Court today to continue deliberations.

Merryman, who could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty of swindling an elderly couple out of about $48,000 in 2008 through his Care Construction Service company, started the day at the defense table as prosecutors called more dissatisfied customers to testify against him.