Update: Testimony in Kwame Kilpatrick Trial Slated to Wrap Up Wednesday

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Mcphail

Updated Tuesday, 9:45 a.m. --  Everyone showed up for court Tuesday morning, including the jury. But U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said no witnesses were available, so court was dismissed for the day. Some witnesses were ill and others were out of town.

Witnesses are slated to testify on Wednesday, which should mark the end of all the testimony for trial. The judge will hear motions on Friday and opening arguments are set for Monday.

This is a report from Monday's court session.

By Allan Lengel

Politics is never short of irony.

Enter Sharon McPhail.

McPhail, who once called Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick a “thug” while serving on the Detroit City Council,  only to go on to work for him in his cabinet, came to his defense Monday.

McPhail, who worked as general counsel for Kilpatrick from 2006 to 2008, testified in the Kilpatrick public corruption trial that two very key government witnesses, who delivered damaging testimony, were liars.

When asked by Kilpatrick’s attorney Jim Thomas if she thought Derrick Miller, the star government witness who worked in the Kilpatrick administration, was truthful, she said:

“I didn’t trust him. He didn’t tell the truth.”

Miller, who has pleaded guilty to bribery, testified as a condition of his guilty plea, that he delivered bribes for the mayor including $10,000 in cash at Asian Village restaurant near the river.

Then Thomas asked McPhail about Emma Bell, Kilpatrick’s chief fundraiser, another key government witness, who testified that she gave Kilpatrick about $250,000 in kickbacks from her fundraising efforts from the campaign and entities like the Kilpatrick Civic Fund.

Asked by Thomas if she thought Bell was an honest person, she said:

“No.”

In  an interesting strategic move -- perhaps to send a message to the jury that it didn’t think McPhail’s testimony was all that significant -- the prosecution decided not to ask any questions during cross examination.

McPhail’s testimony came in what is now expected to the be the last week of testimony in trial. U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds said this morning that trial should finish up on Wednesday. Then there will be a two-day break before closing arguments begin next Monday.

McPhail also testified about giving cash gift to Kilpatrick. The defense claims that Kilpatrick got a lot of his unexplained cash from gifts from birthdays and from his wedding. The prosecution claims the money came from bribes and kickbacks and that Kilpatrick's expenditures far exceeded his income as mayor.

“Cabinet members, we gave $1,000 or more,” McPhail testified. “We kind of all put the money together in a big ball and gave it to him.”

She said Christine Beatty collected the money.

She said that after losing in the primary for mayor in 2005, Kilpatrick offered her a job in his administration as general counsel.

She told Killpatrick she’d be willing to come on board if she didn’t have to report to chief of staff Christine Beatty, who became Kilpatrick’s mistress.

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