Kilpatrick corruption trial resumes after 2 week break

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The Kilpatrick Corruption Trial resumed Tuesday, after a two-week hiatus to allow Bobby Ferguson's lead defense attorney time to recover.

Now that attorney is talking about what lead up to his unexpected trip to the hospital.

For the first time publicly, Gerald Evelyn is talking about the heart problem that landed him in the hospital and put the Kilpatrick Corruption Trial on hold for two weeks.

"It really renews your faith. We all run around do what we have to do and you figure you're unimportant and uncared about, and people throw their arms around you like they did, and I'm just so grateful," said Evelyn.

Evelyn told reporters after court Tuesday that when he asked for a break during his cross examination of a key government witness last month – he felt chest pain, and was seeing double.

"I was really uncomfortable when I asked for that break. I remember the judge saying take 5 minutes, and I remember thinking if I can get back in 5 minutes, it'll be a miracle," said Evelyn

After the judge welcomed Evelyn back to court Tuesday morning, he resumed his cross-examination of Thomas Hardiman, the owner of A&H Contractors and the former co-owner of Lakeshore Engineering Services. During questioning from federal prosecutors last month, Hardiman had told the jury that Evelyn's client, Bobby Ferguson, extorted him out of more than $3 Million.

Ferguson, his friend former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, and Bernard Kilpatrick are on trial, accused of lining their pockets through extortion with water department contracts.

Before Evelyn's medical emergency, he got Hardiman to admit that a subcontractor voluntarily paid Ferguson when Ferguson gave up one part of water department deal – a payment defense lawyers say had more to do with honoring a broken contract, not extortion.

Tuesday, Hardiman was at times obstinate on the stand, as Evelyn tried to show that Hardiman had a good working relationship with Ferguson. Ferguson looked visibly frustrated during Hardiman's testimony, when Hardiman repeatedly could not answer even basic questions about his own company and income.

Evelyn asked Hardiman about a water main that broke on one of Hardiman's jobs on the East Side of Detroit.  Evelyn said Hardiman called on Ferguson to help stop the flooding and fix the water main.

Federal prosecutors are trying to show the jury that in the Kilpatrick administration – contractors worked in a climate of fear that there would be consequences if they didn't put Ferguson on their bids.

Evelyn is trying to dispel that theory.

Meanwhile, Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas says he doesn't expect the jury to even know about or consider former co-defendant Victor Mercado's guilty plea that took place during the recent break.

"If you've got a jury that listens, and they follow the law, then we get a chance to do our case in the fashion that we wanted, without any hindrance at all," said Thomas.

Both the federal prosecutors and the defense lawyers worked together to come up with the jury instructions about Victor Mercado's absence. The jury was told to totally disregard the fact that he's no longer there and reminded them that everyone at the defense table has the presumption of innocence.

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