Defense Rests in Ex-Officers’ Trial Over Kelly Thomas’ Death

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The closing arguments in the trial of two former Fullerton police officers accused in the beating death of Kelly Thomas continued for a second straight day in a Santa Ana court room on Wednesday.

filephoto manuel ramos jay cicinelli kelly thomas trial
File photo of Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli in court.

While the first day’s closing arguments centered mostly around the prosecution, the second day focused mostly on the defense attorneys, who finished their statements at the end of the day.

Jay Cicinelli and Manuel Ramos have both been charged in connection with the fatal beating of Thomas.

Ramos faces the most serious charge of second-degree murder. That charge is based on the prosecution’s theory that Ramos sent the whole incident with Thomas into motion when he made a fist and threatened Thomas.

Defense attorneys countered the prosecution’s claim and said that it was a conditional threat. They brought up audio evidence of a previous encounter between Ramos and Thomas where they claimed Ramos had made a similar threat, but with a baton.

In that encounter, Ramos asked Thomas whether he had ever been hit with one before, the defense said. John Barnett, Ramos’ attorney, said it was a similar implied threat and that Ramos had been trying to get Thomas to comply. That incident, the defense noted, did not end in violence.

The defense suggested that the threat was the same as the one with the baton. Barnett brought out a baton to demonstrate during his closing arguments.

“If I point to my baton and say ‘have you been hit with one of these before?’–with the clear implication that you might get hit now if you don’t do what I tell you–if I do that, if I use this baton in that way, that references the baton in this way, then that, by their expert, is reasonable,” Barnett said.

“If I do this,” he continued, making a fist, “that’s murder.”

Barnett was referencing the prosecution’s expert who said that using the baton in the way he used it would be okay, but that using the fist and the language from the second incident was not.

Closing arguments continued through the afternoon, with Cicinelli’s also attorney getting a chance to speak to the jury.

On Thursday morning, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was expected to deliver his rebuttal statement. The case was set to then be sent to the jury.

KTLA’s Chip Yost contributed to this article.

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