DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The defense began calling witnesses today in the federal corruption trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price.
The first witness, lawyer Gordon Hikel, was still on the stand just before lunch and had yet to be cross-examined by the prosecution. Hikel is an assistant Dallas County administrator who was the legal counsel for commissioners — including Price.
In the month since the trial began prosecutors presented the story of a shady elected official who conspired with executive assistant Dapheny Fain and lobbyist Kathy Nealy to commit bribery and tax fraud. Price is accused of raking in nearly $1 million in cars, cash and property — and hiding it all from the Internal Revenue Service.
During testimony today Hikel testified about commissioners meetings, the process behind vendor bidding, and the kind of information that can be made public from those discussions. When defense attorneys asked Hikel if he’d ever talked to Price about the facts of this case he said no.
The trial has already seen a number of twists and turns. Jurors have been dismissed and the judge scolded the prosecution for failing to turn over evidence. Prosecutors rested on Tuesday and the judge denied a request for acquittal. The defense will pick up talking about Fain, and it is their turn to call witnesses.
While there has been no word if it will actually happen, criminal defense attorney Anthony Eiland wondered if Price would take the witness stand in his own defense. “That’s going to be an interesting situation,” Eiland said. “It benefits him to take the stand because, if you’re saying you’re not guilty of this offense, then why not go out and defend yourself?”