Closing arguments began today in the Michelson/Powers/Campbell trial. The court room was fairly full, mostly with Powers' friends and family. Then there was Michelson, sitting front row and center with each of his attorneys, from Kirkland and Ellis, sandwiching him from the crowd. His only friends, who are paid approx. $1,000 an hour each to hold his hand in his time of need.
Before the Jurors came in the Judge said the Jury will decide first on the "statue of limitations" before going on to the points of the counts. If they decide that the prosecution brought the case too, late then it would be time barred and the case would be dismissed. If not, then the Jury will read the instructions to decide on each count for each defendant.
They started at 10 am sharp with Knowles, the D.A., presenting his closing argument. He started slow and methodical. His first quote was, "we are not going to victimize one another, we learn this as children" then he said, "The charges are not about Money" Wow, of course not. I can't believe he actually finally said it. It's personal. We've known that all along, for years. He feels he was used by his best friend, Neil, to get a free ride and that Neil never really liked him, only pretended to like him. I doubt that. A friend doesn't stick around for 15 years if he doesn't like you or is pretending to be a friend. No one can keep up a ruse like that for that long. But Gary is so insecure that's the only thing he wants to believe. That is his justification for crucifying people who he can't control. What I think is Gary was secretly in love with Neil and Neil really liked Gary as well but finally he just got tired of Gary's bullshit and started to drift off, met a woman, fell in love, got married, had a baby and that's when Gary realized he was not in control anymore of Neil. This drove him crazy, so he began his plan of vengeance. This has only been going on for eight years against these two guys.
If you recall from previous blog entries, when Neil found a woman he wanted to marry, Gary decided to find a wife and get married in 2007. Gary gave a ring to a woman, promised her a big house and she still rejected him. Then he demanded the ring back and he even sued her for the ring. When Neil had a baby, Gary wanted a baby.
Anyway, so Knowles makes another statement, "Larson by Trick" is his slogan. In the opening statement it was "They hid what they did." So Knowles starts again by reading Powers' emails, between him and Campbell building up to something, something but nothing criminal, maybe civil but not criminal. It sounded conspiratorial and bad but nothing came close to showing cause that money was stolen from those counts they were charged with. Oh, Mr. Knowles tried and selected many paragraphs from many pages of emails, taking every thing out of context and pasting it where he wanted it to look like a real crime had been committed. You only had to read the "elmo" or overhead projector's image quickly to see there were several explanations for what was written but he would switch pages so one couldn't really get a clear picture of what was going on. It really sounded bad the way he went on for over 1 hour like this, painting a picture of Powers and Campbell teamed up to "scheme" the Poor Dr. out of $2.5M dollars from several properties he bought. Knowles used his Power Point presentation, like he did in his opening statement, to demonstrate exactly how the money was siphoned off from Michelson's purchases. Except Knowles unknowingly highlighted areas which showed "Powers Profits" and purchases but then says, Michelson sent all the money down first. Still he showed "No Proof" of how much Powers paid for the properties or how much profit he earned from the sales. He tried to show a timeline of purchases that went past the time barred date of March 26th 2013 but his evidence just didn't support it as fact. He attempted to show that these 5 counts actually had properties that were not completed as a sale in 2005 but that contradicted Michelson's own sworn statements in court. Then he tried to make a big deal out of the fact that Mr. Powers wired $32,000 to Mr. Campbell for an Augusta Motorcycle as a gift. Who's to say that Mr. Powers is NOT allowed to give anyone gifts with his money. By this time an hour has passed and most of the Jurors are again sleeping. He then gets into Powers Professional Services Agreement where it clearly states that Mr. Powers is an independent contractor, saying nothing about a 6% agreement. This 6% idea was all made up by Michelson by the way. Nothing was ever found memorializing this in a contract. The only paper they had showing Powers making a commission was one paper where Powers reports that "Powers Investments Inc." for the year 2005 paid "Richard" various commissions ranging from 1% to 25% for an average of 5.6% but nothing from C & M or Michelson. Knowles talked about Powers' salary but never was there a check stub or receipt showing Powers ever had a salary. No evidence at all supporting any of this. This was all made up by Michelson and his civil attorneys then packaged and given to the D.A. Basically Knowles was trying to show that the discovery date that a crime might have occurred was Dec. 06, when Powers' signed a trust agreement finalizing their business relationship. It was an amicable "Trust Agreement" where they agreed to exchange Michelson's money for Powers' properties. Mr. Powers owned them with his own money and they never could prove that he didn't own them. Mr. Marten testified on Wednesday that Powers' sold Michelson about half of his 43 properties and Michelson rejected the rest, or approx. 20 properties which Powers eventually sold to someone else.
Then Knowles get's into the testimony of Marten that the properties sold to Michelson were less than 30% planted. So what! Jonathan, the defense attorney, showed a letter several times during this trial that Michelson knew as early as 2002 and 2003 that he had a very low planted area. Michelson testified in the prelims that he wanted to preserve "nature" so he purchased all kinds of properties including almost 4,000 acres of Ocean View properties, of which he probably still retains. Knowles continued with this for a while before the Judge interrupted him for calling out the counts as numbers 44-49 instead of 1-5. In any case it was at this point Knowles had used up about an hour and a half and the Judge decided to break early for lunch and return at 1 PM for Jonathan Michael's closing arguments. The Jury was all but sleeping. Only one appeared to be taking notes.
Defense arguments started at 1 PM sharp with Super Lawyer Jonathan Michael's. He had his easel and poster boards ready for presentation to the Jury. The Judge looked interested. The Jury looked interested. The audience looked interested. Michelson looked scared. Not sure why but he seemed very angry as he positioned himself right behind Mr. Knowles and you could feel the darts coming from his eyes, straight to the back of Knowles head. Knowles looked very nervous as Jonathan prepared for his opening statement. "Those e-mails? All made up". "Lies, manufactured by Dr. Michelson and his team of lawyers and forensic scientists" That was his first statement. So Powerfully delivered that the Jury were all on the edge of their seats taking notes for the first time of the day. "All those emails Mr. Knowles read to you this morning, fabricated, total lies, and I'm going to prove it to you."
So Jonathan began a very detailed account of the timeline when Mr. Powers' computers were seized by the Costa Rican D.A.'s office back in Dec. 2008. He recounted the testimony of 8 of the 12 Costa Rican Police and D.A.'s officials who seized the computers. But they didn't bring the one guy who all of them testified took the computers to the evidence locker at the station. So for 5 months those computers had no log in or log out date into evidence. There was the first broken chain of custody. Then he followed the timeline to when, in May 2009, the hard drives were copied onto an external hard drive and sent to Mr. Scott Cooper, a forensic expert who copied all the hard drives onto approx. 43 discs with over a million pages of data, supposedly. But Jonathan attacked this idea because this Forensic Expert had in his possession for almost 5 years these hard drives with copies to Michelson's lawyers, the very lawyers who were in court today, who then packaged them neatly then delivered them personally to Michelson's good friend Steven Cooley, the then Head District Attorney in 2012 and said, "we want you to arrest these two criminals, Powers and Campbell, put a $10 M bail on their heads with 140 counts so that they will never see the light of day again in their lives". This quote can only be imagined on what was said because I'm sure Michelson also said, "don't worry, I've already sued these guys so they have no money to defend themselves and the retention period for them to get bank records that would ever prove their innocence does no longer exist". We can only imagine what was really said behind those closed doors, however back to Mr. Michael's.
He then takes this a step further. The day before he cross examined Villasenor, the D.A.'s head investigator. He asked him why did they accept only copies from Mr. Cooper and not ask him for the hard drive for their own Forensic Investigation team to copy them selves? There may have been some evidence that was left out or even doctored. Mr. Villasenor's answer was that his boss would not let him. His Boss, Steve Cooley (who's also Michelson's friend) wouldn't let him because Michelson's best friend, Scott Cooper, was "More than qualified" to do so and the emails were to be trusted. To take it even further, Jonathan recounted testimony from the Investigator that Mr. Powers was arrested in Houston and there was found in his possession his computer, which their own Forensic Department, (by the way, known as one of the best in the world) copied the hard drive from Mr. Powers' computer. When asked if any of the emails from Powers' computer was being used in this case, the answer was "NO". So why not?? Because Mr. Powers didn't write those emails or if he did they were possibly altered when the computers went missing for those 5 months. In any case it was compelling that the "chain of custody" was broken and the evidence was mishandled. Then he went another step further stating that "they could have subpoenaed the servers, aol. gmail, cox.net,etc. and gotten the emails directly or they could have gotten the emails from Campbell's computer but they didn't, why not?"
Then Jonathan asked the Jury if they remembered last Monday when Michelson testified to taking the evidence out of the court room. Some of the Jurors nodded their heads. Jonathan said, "Dr. Michelson walked out of this courtroom with the evidence, took it home for 5 days and brought it back, and when asked if he took it he said Yes, with a laugh" "he stole court evidence, in my 20 years of trials I've never had anyone steal the evidence out of our courtroom", "what was he looking for?" "what did he do to the evidence, we'll never know for sure". One thing is for sure though, not only is Dr. Michelson a liar but now we know he's a thief, was the implication Jonathan had inferred with his statements. "He took the Book", He took the Book" he must be the crook, he took the book sounds better. Jonathan then picks up the large binder holding all the evidence and thumbs through the pages showing the Jury the immense amount of evidence inside this book, saying, "who know's what he was doing for 5 days with this book". "he took the book". The Jury was riveted at this point. So the Jury was left with great doubt at this point on weather they could trust anything that was presented in those emails which supposedly came from his supposed computers. Great doubt indeed. Then Jonathan switched gears and began reviewing all the testimony of all the witnesses from the People. First he presented his poster showing the various numbers used on the value of the investment Michelson claimed he had in the C & M farms in C.R. The first number came from his financial adviser who said, "$20 Million" was the number, then from Michelson's sworn declaration in Costa Rica that he had invested $25M, then another declaration where he said his investment was $28M, then another at $32M then another at $36M and finally another at $42M. Jonathan just ripped into this saying, "we don't know what number to believe." This guy just lies all over the place. Then came the number of acres of properties he owns. He states under testimony he has less than 2,000 acres, then his financial manager David Cohen says they own still half or about 10,000 acres but when his farm manager, Andres Marten, is flown up from Costa Rica he testifies that they own about 6,000 acres. "Who are we to believe" "Then Dr. Michelson testifies that he sold his properties for $32M, which was confirmed by his farm manager, Mr. Marten". "So he has back $32M and still has maybe 4,000 acres of ocean view land and 2,000 acres of trees"? Not bad. To top that off Marten admits that the properties appraised in 2008-2009 from $40M to $80M dollars. I wish someone would treat me like that. Then Michelson is impeached but again when testifying that Bill Capps, (his Century City attorney) had the role of only drafting the C&M partnership agreement, when in fact he was involved from day one in looking out for Michelson’s investment.
Then Jonathan shifts gears again focusing on the 3410: statue of limitations: This is simple math and Jonathan makes it even more simple by providing the Jury with a big billboard chart showing the time barred date of March 26th, 2013 stating that all the discovery of an alleged crime had to be discovered by March 26th, 2006 to fall within that 7 year period. Michelson testified he had received and paid for all the properties in counts 1-5 by the end of December of 2005. This happens to be direct testimony from the witness and should stick if he can be believed. If the Jury does get it then the case will be dismissed before any of the charges are deliberated on. The other thing Mr. Michael's demonstrates here is the great value and profit Michelson made from these few properties, regardless of whether or not they have 70% or 10% planted with trees. They are simply valuable and he already made a huge profit. Again he reiterates that Michelson is just upset because he didn't sell at the right time before the market crashed.
In the meantime Knowles is looking visibly shaken and it's hard to tell if it's because Jonathan is ripping his case apart or because he knows Michelson is watching and judging every move he makes and every word he speaks. Even deputy D.A. Ms Weintraub is there looking very nervous, doodling on her paper. By the way, she never said a word the entire day. It was Knowles' case and she was letting him sink the ship all by himself.
Then Jonathan comes back to the big binder and say's, "what did he take??"", "the book" came the answer from one of the Jurors'. "he took the book". Jonathan finished it up with that statement hanging in the air for the Jurors to really get it. Jonathan had raised doubt in Michelson's testimony, he raised doubt in the chain of custody and the validity of the emails, the amount of acres owned, the value invested and presented the hard evidence to the Jury to look at and instructed them on how to fill out the "verdict forms". If he took the Book he must be the Crook. This isn't the OJ case but this will be remembered as another good catch slogan. The Jury seemed convinced of the evidence or lack there of. Jonathan rests his case and did it in less than one hour.
By this time you could see steam coming off the head of Michelson. His lawyers were restraining him from jumping over the wall. A witness sitting right behind him reportedly heard his lawyer lean over to him and said, "did you really take evidence out of the courtroom"? Michelson had no response, only stared straight at the Judge with steam coming out of his ears. Maybe he was staring at Knowles, it was hard to tell. Steam for sure though.
Then Knowles got his final rebuttal: It was awful. It was obvious he was exhausted. He probably didn't sleep at all the night before. He didn't address any of Jonathan's points. He only repeated himself from earlier but in a very soft voice and he was shaking looking very ill at one point. He could have had 30 minutes to re-direct but after 15 minutes he seemed to be lost and didn't know where to go from there and simply said, "thank you" and sat down. How nervous he must have been knowing that his entire career could be in the hands of the "man behind the curtain" in this case 'the man behind the wall, Michelson'. The Judge swore in the deputy to address the Jury as the Jury was led out to the Jury room to deliberate. it was about 3PM now. When the Jury had left, Michelson rushes forward and sits next to Knowles. He was overheard yelling, "you got to do something Knowles, that was all lies, you got to fix it". (of course it was all lies, it was his lies) It sounded like Knowles said "it's all over, go home" or something like that. Knowles never looked at him and basically ignored him. Michelson left the court very abruptly obviously angry with his two high priced friends following close behind. However they took separate elevators down. Interesting.
Later someone reported Michelson coming out of the Janitors closet. Was he hiding? Was he afraid of something, someone? Jonathan Michaels, founder of MLG law firm was the STAR today.
Jonathan went on about how much the state of Calif. had to pay for 13 Costa Rican's to be flown up here to testify. "On your money", he said, "the people". Round trip tickets, hotels and meals. They even flew up some of their families and sent them to Disney land. And Andres Marten? "they flew him up twice so he could go back to Costa Rica for the weekend. Twice", "think about that for a minute, how much that must have cost". How much this entire case must have cost, just because Michelson wants his pound of flesh from these guys."
Knowles did address this and said, "when we have a crime that has been committed we don't say, hey this is going to cost us a lot of money, we better not go after them. Now you wouldn't want us to say that to you if you were the victim, now would you?".
Jury deliberated for an hour then recessed at 4PM to return Monday to continue deliberation at 9AM