AURORA, Colo. — The defense rested its case Friday afternoon without calling any witnesses in the trial against two Aurora officers charged in the 2019 death of Elijah McClain.
Randy Roedema and Jason Rosenblatt pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault in connection with the Aug. 24, 2019 arrest of McClain. The 23-year-old McClain died a few days later.
The People rested its case earlier in the day against Roedema and Rosenblatt after the senior prosecutor for the Colorado Attorney General, Jason Slothouber, concluded his redirect examination of former Washington, D.C., medical examiner Dr. Roger Mitchell, who prosecutors said aided in improving the accuracy of McClain's cause of death in an amended coroner report, which led to the indictment of three officers involved in his arrest and the two paramedics who administered a heavy dose of ketamine that night.
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Judge Mark D. Warner then dismissed the jury until 2 p.m., and the defense presented two requests to the judge.
The defense argued the prosecution should have to narrow the scope of the charges being brought against their clients and specify the counts of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and second-degree assault that Roedema and Rosenblatt face. The judge denied the motion.
The defense also petitioned on Rule 29, a motion for acquittal. The lawyers for both Roedema and Rosenblatt said the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence of all three alleged offenses to sustain a conviction.
After more than an hour and a half, the court broke for lunch without making a decision on Rule 29. The court returned at 1 p.m. and continued the discussion about the Rule 29 motion.
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Elijah McClain case blog: The Defense rest their case
The prosecution took to the podium first and continued its argument against the Rule 29 motion. Attorneys for both Roedema and Rosenblatt then presented counterpoints to the prosecution's argument.
After some time, Warner ruled that there was sufficient evidence presented to the jurors regarding each count and denied the defense's Rule 29 motion.
A brief discussion was held regarding wording for jury instruction, or the guidance given to jurors as they deliberate the case. The defense wants the jury to be instructed not to consider if the stop involving McClain was justified. Instead, the defense wants the jury to only consider what happened after the stop. Warner said the parties will most likely be able to find a common ground in the final jury instruction.
Both Roedemma and Rosenblatt were then read their rights when it comes to testifying in their defense. They each declined to testify in the case.
The jurors were called back into the courtroom around 2:17 p.m.
The Court called up Roedema's team, which rested its case. Rosenblatt's team then took to the podium and rested its case. No witnesses were called.
Closing arguments will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. The jury will then receive its instruction before they head into deliberation. They were dismissed around 2:24 p.m.
The Court did not solidify final wording for jury instruction Friday. The prosecution submitted draft jury instruction earlier in the case. The defense has until 10 p.m. Saturday to submit their draft instructions.
The attorneys will meet on Monday at 8:30 a.m. to discuss the drafts and create a final jury instruction. Roedema and Rosenblatt opted not to attend Monday's jury instruction conference.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE TRIAL:
Day 1 - Wednesday, Sept. 20
Day 2 - Thursday, Sept. 21
Day 3 - Friday, Sept. 22
(No court on Monday, Sept. 25)
Day 4 - Tuesday, Sept. 26
Day 5 - Wednesday, Sept. 27
Day 6 - Thursday, Sept. 28
Day 7 - Friday, Sept. 29
Day 8- Tuesday, Oct. 3
Day 9- Wednesday, Oct. 4
Day 10- Thursday, Oct. 5