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A Look at the Two Trials

April 18, 1993|Associated Press, staff reports

Comparisons between the federal and state Rodney G. King trials:

THE STATE TRIAL

CHARGES: State charges were assault and assault under color of authority, based on use of excessive force.

JURY: State jury in suburban Simi Valley had 10 Anglos, one Asian-American, one Latino.

WITNESSES: California Highway Patrol Officer Melanie Singer was called as a prosecution witness. King did not testify.

OFFICER TESTIMONY: Three of the four defendants, Sgt. Stacey C. Koon and Officers Laurence M. Powell and Theodore J. Briseno, testified.

BRISENO TESTIMONY: Briseno testified against his co-defendants.

JUDGE: Judge Stanley M. Weisberg barred some expert witnesses, questioning their expertise and ruling that their views were essentially common sense.

THE FEDERAL TRIAL

CHARGES: Required proof of intent to deprive someone of a federally protected right--in this case the right to be free from the intentional use of unreasonable force and the right to be safe while in official custody.

JURY: Federal jury in Los Angeles included nine Anglos, two African-Americans, one Latino.

WITNESSES: Singer was called as a defense witness in federal trial. But her tearful account of King's beating and claims that he was struck in the face and head appeared more helpful to the prosecution. King also testified.

OFFICER TESTIMONY: Only one of the officers, Koon, testified; lawyers said he spoke for all defendants.

BRISENO TESTIMONY: The officers' united defense was undermined when U.S. District Judge John G. Davies let jurors see videotaped excerpts of Briseno's state testimony.

JUDGE: Davies allowed testimony from all experts offered by both sides, making no judgment on expertise.

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