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A Co-Defendant’s Plea in Mid-Trial Could Hurt Ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

Victor Mercado

By Allan Lengel
For Deadline Detroit
DETROIT — A surprise guilty plea on Monday by former water department director Victor Mercado in mid-trial could do some serious harm to his co-defendants in the Kwame Kilpatrick public corruption trial, particularly the ex-mayor.

“It’s more likely than not to have a negative impact on the jury’s feelings toward the other defendants,” said defense attorney James W. Burdick, who does not represent any defendant in the case. “I think could say, ‘ahh, they must all be guilty.’”

Burdick said the judge will tell the jurors that Mercado is no longer part of the trial, but won’t say why, and will remind them not to read into his absence when judging the other defendants.

But Burdick, a former state prosecutor, said it’s almost impossible these days with the omnipresent media — be it TV, radio or newspapers — for jurors not to find out that Mercado pleaded guilty.

“The jurors always read the paper, watch TV,” Burdick said. “The family is watching TV. They’ll all know.”

To read the full story click here. 


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