Kilpatrick's family makes appearance at corruption trial

(WXYZ) - For the first time in the five-month Kilpatrick corruption trial,  Detroit's former first family appeared in the court room.

Kwame Kilpatrick's wife, children, mother, and sister were all there to watch his lawyer make his final arguments to the jury.

With the exception of Bobby Ferguson's wife who was inside the courtroom for the first few weeks of testimony only, no family members have ever come to the trial.

On Tuesday, they were front and center and Kilpatrick's lawyer asked the jury to send his client back home to them.

Kwame Kilpatrick handed out hugs to his sons and was clearly glad to have all three of them inside Judge Nancy Edmunds courtroom – the same room where their father's fate will soon will be decided.

Jonas, Jelani and Jalil huddled close with their mother and grandmother, former Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, in the second row behind the defense table.  Kilpatrick's sister, Ayanna, was also there – even though her text messages and her role in some of her brother's non-profit funds have been featured throughout the trial.

"Wouldn't you think that at the climax of the case it would be important to have the support of every body you love," said Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas.

Thomas asked the jury to find Kilpatrick not guilty on every count – and to let him go home to his wife and kids.
Their sudden appearance today prompted questions about whether they were here mainly for show for the jury – which Thomas denied.

"It's expensive to travel, isn't it? And these kids are in school, so supporting their dad is an important thing at this point.   I'm happy that they're here – but that isn't something that I planned," said Thomas.

The former mayor's lawyer spoke for more than two hours – highlighting several witnesses in his closing arguments that he said lacked credibility – asking the jurors to hold that against the government.

Thomas described government witnesses Emma Bell, Derrick Miller, and Karl Kado as "bought and paid for" by the feds.  All of them have taken plea deals in exchange for their testimony.

As for Bell – Thomas told the jury there was absolutely no corroboration to her allegations that she gave Kilpatrick cash kickbacks.. and he showed the jury her gambling records once again.  In their closing arguments Monday, Federal prosecutors painted Kilpatrick as the greedy bully – on Tuesday, Thomas said it was people like Bell who could bully and cajole.

Thomas referred to Mahlon Clifts' testimony about taking $90,000 in cash from Bobby Ferguson to give to Kwame Kilpatrick as "magic." Thomas said Clift's "magical" flight that wasn't documented with plane tickets and "magical" hotel stay that lacked records from the Atheneum – made Clift's story "incredible."

In the end – Thomas told the jury – you have a lot of reason to doubt.

Illness has struck this trial once again.

Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer had just started his closing argument this afternoon – when one juror suddenly had to leave the room due to illness, and another asked if they could stop for the day because she felt so ill.

"It would have been worse had the juror not said I need a break--then I got 11 instead of 12 paying attention," said attorney John Shea.

Closing arguments will resume on Thursday.

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