Today, opening statements began at the U.S. federal District Courts for the trial of Eugene Telfair and Robert Nixon, both facing charges of two counts of embezzlement and conspiracy.
After the jury was sworn in and Judge Robert Hinkle gave a briefing on how the trial would precede the prosecution was the first to begin.
Karen Rhew-Miller’s opening statement was full of dates and numbers detailing how both gentlemen schemed and plotted and successfully stole thousands in government grants and funds. At the end of her opening statement, Rhew-Miller only asked that the jury use two things in their decision to convict both men guilty, that they use their common sense and wealth of experience.
Telfair’s attorney James P. Judkins was next, the main focus of his opening statement being to get the jury to focus on the man that Telfair is, “a good man with a good reputation” as he put it.
Judkins also pointed out that although this case is filled with numbers, dates and times, many of them would probably, like him, not understand the papers full of accounting jargon.
“These institutions are capable of making mistakes,” said Judkins. He mentioned this theory numerous times throughout his opening arguments, basing that this is the possibly sole reason for the mismanagement of the money.
Judkins also said, “The only thing that you’re here to decide is guilty or not guilty. Regardless of what the mountains of paper work/evidence shows.”
The first to end the opening statements was Nixon’s attorney Gary Roberts. Roberts’ statements were short and simple. He said his client could not have been involved in the conspiracy or the embezzlement of the money due to the fact that by the time he began working at the FAMU credit union the money had already been deposited (between the years of 2002-2004), and Nixon did not gain employment until the end of 2004.
Adding to his prior statement, Roberts claims his client only dealt with Telfair to discuss the grounds of the Sustainable Neighborhoods Grant, which is the grant that is in question at the trial.
Trial was to resume after a one-hour break at 1:10 pm.