Submitted by anonymous on January 4, 2007 - 4:28pm
Witnesses Appear in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson
By Brian Dolinar
A motion for a retrial filed by attorney Robert Kirchner on behalf of Patrick Thompson was heard Thursday, January 5, 2007. Nearly 50 of Thompson’s supporters were in the courtroom. In July 2006, Thompson was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse. Thompson is facing 6-30 years for what his supporters believe is retribution for his political activism. Patrick Thompson is one of the videographers that created the controversial documentary Citizen’s Watch in 2004 that exposed the unfair treatment of the black community by local police.
The post-trial motion was turned into a trial-within-a-trial by attorney Robert Kirchner and assistant Ruth Wyman. Ineffective counsel was the underlying theme of Kirchner’s lengthy motion for a retrial. In the July 2006 trial, attorney Harvey Welch had called only one witness for the defense. On Thursday, Kirchner called a total of six witnesses: Thomas Tarr, correctional officer; Susan Frick, jail nurse; Terrence Ware, accuser’s co-worker at Provena; Michael Hediger, Urbana officer; Maria Thompson, Patrick’s wife; and Dawn Miller, accuser’s former friend. The testimony of these witnesses, in addition to legal arguments, builds the case that a jury has not heard all the evidence and Thompson has not received a fair trial.
Thomas Tarr was the correctional officer that processed Thompson when he was taken to jail on August 24, 2004. Tarr testified to filling out a medical intake form at 2:56 p.m. and indicated that Susan Frick had also checked Thompson.
Susan Frick was the staff nurse who examined Thompson. She testified that she had indicated on her form that Thompson had said he had hit his hand on a metal object and that she had taped his fingers. We find out later from Maria Thompson that Patrick had been wearing a splint on the index finger of his right hand, which was never identified by the accuser.
Terrence Ware worked with the accuser. What was a bombshell to many in the courtroom, Ware testified that the accuser was on time to work at 7 a.m. on August 24, 2006 (contrary to her testimony she was late) and that she acted like nothing was wrong. Ware worked at Provena for four years and said he knew the accuser because he bought bootleg DVDs from her. When he heard that the police had arrived that day because the accuser said she had been raped, his response was, “She’s at it again.”
Ware said that in 2003 the accuser had made allegations that he had showed her his private parts. Ware, an African American, said that he was aware of other incidents where the accuser had made sexual allegations against other men of color. When this white woman accused Ware, he was suspended from his job and nearly fired. Like the entire Thompson trial, Ware’s story is further evidence of how the charges of rape by a white woman can destroy the life of a black man in America.
Urbana officer Hediger was the first cop who was on the scene, filled out a police report, and arrested Thompson. Kirchner questioned Hediger’s report which states that the accuser was “yelling” and “screaming” when she was allegedly attacked and testified that these were her words. Kirchner highlighted the accuser’s inconsistent statements that she was “not a yeller” and had spoken just above a talking voice. Kirchner also verified that the accuser made no mention of a finger splint.
When Maria Thompson took the stand, she was calm, confident, and brave. Ruth Wyman questioned her about the morning of August 24, 2004. Maria said she awoke at 6:10 a.m. and her husband was in the shower. Between that time and approximately 7:30 a.m. when Patrick left to attend the first day of class at Parkland College, she was with him the entire time.
Maria also testified that Patrick had been wearing a splint on the index finger of his right hand. She said they had gone to Osco the previous Sunday because Patrick’s finger had become so painful. The splint had a metal backing, blue foam, and was wrapped with tape. He had worn it all week and did not take it off in the shower. This splint has never been identified by the accuser.
Ruth Wyman asked Maria if she had ever been interviewed by Harvey Welch. Maria said no and that she had told Welch during the trial that she wanted to testify. Welch told her it was not a good idea and that her testimony would not help. Of course, Maria’s testimony is Patrick Thompson’s sole alibi.
Lastly, Dawn Miller was a fellow resident at Sunny Crest 2 Apartments and testified that she was with the accuser the night of the alleged incident. Miller had known the accuser for about three weeks. Nearly every night between 8 p.m. and midnight she was at the accuser’s apartment drinking and playing cards. On August 24, 2004, they were once again at the accuser’s apartment. Miller said the accuser acted like her normal self and there were no signs that she had been assaulted.
Miller said she was also discouraged by Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich to speak with Patrick Thompson. Vujovich had subpoenaed Miller in the first trial when Patrick Thompson defended himself. Miller said when Vujovich spoke with her the day of the trial, he told her not to talk to Patrick Thompson. He then did not call her to testify. According to Miller, it was because, “If I took the stand, I’d hurt her [the accuser’s] case.” Miller also said she was never contacted by attorney Harvey Welch in the second trial.
Time had run out before Kirchner had the chance to call all the witnesses he had subpoenaed. A continuance was granted until February 7 at 9 a.m in courtroom A to hear the other witnesses. Others on the witness list include: Anthony Bates, the former boyfriend of the accuser; Harvey Welch, Thompson’s attorney in the second trial; as well as the accuser.
C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice and Community Court Watch would like to thank all who attended Thursday’s hearing and we hope to see you again on February 7 - 9am in Courtroom A.