Four witnesses, closing arguments, instructions to the jury, and the beginning of deliberations consumed the day in 11B of the 17th Circuit Court in Kent County. At stake is whether or not Malcolm Xavier Jeffries had knowledge of or participated in a June 11 1990 beating that left 23-year old Joel Battaglia dying on Lake Drive.
The first witness, Clifford Cannon, is a prisoner tonight with Kent County. Formerly he was housed in prison courtesy of the Michigan Department of Corrections. After some back and forth about the possibility of the prosecution helping him be moved permanently from prison to a county jail for the rest of his 18-month sentence–or a shorter sentence if the prosecution could arrange it, Cannon reluctantly explained to Assistant Prosecutor Kellee Koncki that in an earlier incarceration in the Kent County Jail, he and defendant Malcolm Jeffries were housed in the same pod in late December 2014. They played chess there and talked. Cannon alleged under oath that Jeffries “told me he basically lied, wasn’t truthful with detectives about the case. And he ended up catching a perjury case.” Further, he told Cannon, that if Jeffries could contact he former girlfriend Tammy Warning, he was sure he could improve his chances. That didn’t happen. [See Warning’s testimony yesterday]
On cross–handled today by Jeffries’ court appointed attorney Dennis Carlson–Cannon agreed that he had something to gain from his testimony. Nevertheless, he explained he faced substantial risk if he had to go back to prison; identified as a snitch, he would likely be attacked, he said, maybe killed.
The most contentious and time-consuming witness was Acey Marshall, the brother of convicted killer Aurelias J. Marshall. Acey’s testimony helped to put his brother away for life. As he had in both the preliminary for AJ’s trail and the trial itself, Acey insisted that not only was Jeffries there, but he took part in the assault on Joel Battaglia. Acey Marshall had rolled up on the scene of the beating in his car. He watched for a while–first from his car and then stepping outside–as he alleged that he watched his brother AJ and Jeffries beat Battaglia to death. Quitin T. “ManHowell” Howell, Sr., was at the scene, but Acey had earlier said Howell played no part in the assault. (Howell was only 41 when he died in Grand Rapids, Oct. 7, 2012. That means he would have been 18 years old at the time of Joel’s death. Jeffries would have been 22 at the time.) Then Acey said, he drove AJ and Jeffries to AJ’s house.
By his own admission and police records Acey Marshall has told many different stories over the years, most of them involving Howell and Jeffries. Earlier on, he tried to involve Ezra “Chill” Ezell in the place of his brother. Police discovered Ezell had been in custody at the time of the attack and went back to Acey for a talk. At last he offered up his brother, but did it quietly because he feared AJ: “He’s crazy.” But Acey agreed that his storied have changed often during the 25 year history of the case. And he wasn’t happy when police showed up Oct. 21, 2014 when he was recovering from a stroke while staying at his sister’s house in Georgia. He first lied under oath, but when confronted with the possibility of jail and/or prison time for perjury, he acquiesced and again gave police the story that involved his brother, Jeffries, and Howell. He has sworn to that repeatedly in court. But defense attorney Carlson, again on cross, highlighted the trail of lies that Acey had told over the years and worked along the lines that Acey and Jeffries had a beef over drugs that involved an assault by Jeffries on Marshall. The prosecution had contended that the attack likely was payback for Acey snitching out Jeffries to police. Everybody agree, though, that there had been the assault.
Eric Boillat was the final prosecution witness and he went through some of the mechanics of phone dumps looking for connections with those close to the crime. He highlighted his attention on the nearly-a- hour-long phone call soon after Jeffries’ investigative subpoena session, between him and his sister Velma Tims. Tims was subsequently the recipient of an investigative subpoena herself.
The final witness, and against Carlson’s advice, was the defendant. He was innocent, he proclaimed and knew nothing about the crime, never did. Further, he contested that he as never served an investigative subpoena, despite yesterday’s playing the entire video session, clearly showing his receiving and acknowledging the subpoena placed before him. the video had been doctored, he claimed, a charge he had leveled in a 1994 concerning an audio recording of his interrogation.
Further, he said, he and Acey only had the beef about drugs, and while he admitted he beat Acey with the small aluminum bat, it was only about drug money. And everybody else was lying…each one with a purpose.
Koncki got him to admit that he had lied, forcefully protesting his innocence in his 1994 conviction for two counts of unarmed robbery and one of unlawful driving away, but now readily agreed that he was guilty at the time.
After closing arguments he case went to the jury, which stepped out to deliberate at 2:49. Shortly thereafter, they asked to see the interview with Jeffries’ sister Velma Tims. The prosecution yesterday forced an admission from her that she had testified that her brother admitted his perjury to her during an earlier recorded interview, but it was a hard-won victory, almost Pyrrhic. Evidently the jury wanted to see and hear for itself that recording that had been placed as evidence should the jury members want to do so. They did, and then kept deliberating until Judge Trusock summoned them at 4:45 and sent them home with instruction to be back at it bright and early.
Maybe there will be a verdict tomorrow?