DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – John Wiley Price is one step closer to learning his fate. Closing arguments in the embattled Dallas County commissioner’s corruption trial will begin after the judge reads the 25-page charge to the jury.
The courtroom in the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas is packed, many of those supporting Price on this final day. Pastor Zan Holmes said, “It’s life. It’s life, and so we all have to deal with it. He has to deal with it and we’re supporting him. I’m his former pastor for many years and I’ve known him.”
Supporter Theresa Stumon also made her way to the courtroom. “He worked very hard downtown for everyone, it doesn’t matter what race or anything. He has a heart for all mankind,” she said.
Price is accused of tax evasion, bribery and mail fraud. He could spend decades in prison if convicted of all 11 counts.
The FBI spent years investigating Price, the longest-serving Dallas County commissioner. Prosecutors must now try to tie that evidence together. But former U.S. attorney Matt Orwig said the government made mistakes in this trial. They have a lot to prove, while the defense must only show reasonable doubt.
“It was not an overwhelming case,” Orwig said about the prosecution in Price’s trial. “There was not wiretap testimony. There were not tape recordings. There were not alleged co-conspirators on the inside that were willing to testify about Commissioner Price’s intent.”
Most of the high-profile officials on the witness list never took the stand, and Price never testified in his own defense.
Judge Barbara Lynn also lashed out at prosecutors earlier this month for not sharing some evidence with the defense.
The trial is wrapping up much earlier than expected. After nearly two months of testimony, the jury is expected to begin deliberations either very late this afternoon or first thing Wednesday morning.
Once the jury has returned with a verdict, the judge could make an unusual move. If the jury convicts Price on the charge of mail fraud, Lynn said she will likely overturn the decision because she doesn’t believe prosecutors made a strong case on that charge.
But the jury’s decision still matters. If they acquit Price, prosecutors cannot appeal. But if he is convicted — and that decision is overruled by the judge — then the ruling can be appealed.