A ruling on whether former police sergeant and convicted rapist Gordon Ennis will get a new trial was delayed a week after the judge unexpectedly requested more time to consider the facts.
“I thought I knew what I was going to do when I came out,” Judge Maryann Moreno told the court Friday afternoon, pushing the decision to next Friday. “But now I want to wait and think about it.”
Attorneys had argued for about two hours on motions submitted by the defense soon after Ennis was convicted in March of second-degree rape. He was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow police officer at a house party in Colbert in 2015, where the victim said she awoke to his fingers inside her without her consent.
Defense attorney Mark Vovos, who replaced Ennis’ trial lawyer Rob Cossey in April, said deputy prosecuting attorneys Kelly Fitzgerald and Kyle Treece violated his client’s Fifth Amendment privilege when they mentioned to the jury in closing arguments that Ennis was silent to investigators until testifying in open court at the tail end of his two-weeklong trial.
“This is a conflict,” he said. “This is a statement on silence. Words matter.”
Treece countered, saying the attorneys made those statements not on Ennis as the defendant, but as a witness when he took the stand. He further said the former officer perjured himself when he made statements that he offered to cut his fingernails to investigators for evidence, when court testimony by the lead detective and his sergeant contradicts that.
Vovos further argued that Cossey had a conflict of interest when he failed to present evidence that Ennis and his wife considered important. It involved a conversation between Officer Doug Strosahl’s attorney Chris Bugbee and Cossey centered on the possibility that Strosahl may have had consensual sexual contact with the victim earlier that night.
Fitzgerald balked at Ennis’ argument, saying it was “nothing more than ‘I just don’t like the result and I want a do-over.’ ”
“This is a case where a jury heard two conflicting statements about an event,” she said. “And when the jury heard those conflicting statements, they found one of the statements rooted in truth. One of the statements happened.”
Fitzgerald said there were tactful reasons Cossey sat on the information, and questioned why Ennis and his wife never complained about it not being part of Cossey’s strategy in the months leading up to the trial, since they were allegedly told the information well before he was charged.
Vovos also argued the court swayed the jury with biased instructions.
Also on Friday, attorneys will argue whether hearing transcripts involving former Police Guild President John Gately that occurred during trial should be open to the public.
His sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 24.
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