Defense rests its case in Van Dyke trial as closing arguments set to begin Thursday

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Officer Jason Van Dyke

Crusader Staff Report

The defense team of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke rested its case Wednesday, October 3 after final testimony in the murder trial wrapped up at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Judge Vincent Gaughan said both sides will make their closing argument on Thursday before the 12 jurors will decide whether or not to convict Jason Van Dyke of first degree murder for shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times.

Gaughan will read the jurors instructions before they head to a deliberation room and sort out the testimony of 40 witnesses, and review autopsy photos and videos. Jurors must weigh conflicting testimonies, many of which came from Van Dyke’s defense attorneys, who put their client on the witness stand Tuesday as part of a risky move to strengthen a defense that struggled throughout the proceedings to prove that McDonald was a serious threat before he was gunned down on October 20, 2014.

During his testimony, Van Dyke contradicted the police video that shows McDonald walking away from officers without ever raising the knife he held in his hand. Van Dyke said McDonald tried to get up after he was pumped with many bullets and he said the teenager moved closer to him before the fatal confrontation.

Under cross examination, Van Dyke grew visibly uncomfortable as he was grilled about statements he made immediately after the shooting and during his testimony on the witness stand Tuesday.

The most reviewed piece of the evidence in the trial was the infamous video that shows Van Dyke shooting the teenager seconds after he arrived on the scene that included five officers, many of whom testified that they were waiting for an officer with a Taser to arrive. The video was shown at least two dozen times, mainly by prosecutors, who time and again picked apart the testimonies of experts and witnesses from the defense.

On Wednesday, prosecutors called back Cook County Sheriff’s Officer Adam Murphy, who testified that he saw a lot of blood spilling out of McDonald’s body as it lay towards the fence of an empty parking lot. He was shown a video of the incident to help refresh his memory. It was a rebuttal testimony that was in response to an expert from the defense who had testified earlier in the trial that McDonald only lost a cup of blood after he was shot 16 times.

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahan, who made the opening arguments for the State, will also present the closing arguments. Van Dyke’s lead attorney, Daniel Hebert, will give closing arguments for the defense.

Van Dyke has been charged with two count of first degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery.

 

 

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