Case of accused cop killer Brian Fitch in jury's hands

 

Officer Scott Patrick's two families arrived Monday morning for closing arguments on a frigid morning in St. Cloud, Minn. -- his widow and two daughters, and then his brothers from the Mendota Heights police force. In fact, so many of his fellow officers packed into the Stearns County courtroom that it was standing room only.

"Our whole department that could be here, was here. If they're not here, they're either working or sleeping," Mendota Heights Police Chief Michael Aschenbrener said.

Prosecutor: ‘The time has come for justice to be served'

Closing arguments in the case against Brian Fitch were full of drama. There was Dakota County prosecutor Phil Prokopwicz waving Fitch's gun in its plastic evidence bag, shouting "This is the murder weapon. This is the gun that killed Scott Patrick." He finished his 95-minute summary of the facts by telling jurors, "the time has come for justice to be served…the time has come to return verdicts of guilty."

Defense: ‘Huge gaping hole' in timeline

Fitch's defense team responded, playing the audio of the dramatic shootout between Fitch and police on July 30. Attorney Lauri Traub took 45 minutes to point out possible reasonable doubt in the state's case.

Traub argued there's a "huge gaping hole" in the state's timeline, because Jesse Charles and his mom, who gave Fitch the Hyundai SUV that day, testified Fitch was at their house before 12:20 p.m., before Officer Patrick was gunned down in West St. Paul by someone driving Fitch's green Pontiac Grand Am. Traub also jumped on the fact that no eyewitness can identify Fitch as the shooter at Dodd Road and Smith avenue, nor is the gunman's face on Officer Patrick's squad camera video.

"The case is now in jury hands," Chief Aschenbrener said. "Listening to the closing arguments, I think both sides did a nice job presenting the facts, and they kept the emotion out as best they could."

Courtroom outburst

Before Judge Mary Theisen handed the case over to the jury of 7 men and 5 women, there was one last memorable moment. During the prosecution's rebuttal argument over Fitch's intentions during the shootout, Fitch yelled out "overruled" -- something everyone in heard and prompted deputies to perk up from their courtroom positions. The judge did not address the outburst.


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