TEXARKANA, Ark. – Jurors began deliberating Thursday in the federal sex-crimes case against an evangelist accused of taking underage girls across state lines for sex.
The charges against 74-year-old Tony Alamo could land him in jail for the rest of his life if he's convicted.
The jury began deliberating early Thursday at Texarkana federal courthouse, a day after listening to prosecutors and defense attorneys offer their final portrayals of Alamo.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyra Jenner described Alamo as a manipulator who dictated everything from what his followers believed to what they could eat. At one point, she turned to stare directly at him.
"Your crimes have been exposed in this courtroom," Jenner said. Alamo sneered and waved her away.
Alamo fell asleep several times during Jenner's closing argument. At one point, his mouth hung wide open as his head rolled back in his chair. A member of his legal team woke him by throwing a pen onto the defense table. When he was awake, Alamo muttered "bull----" at times during Jenner's remarks.
Defense lawyer Phillip Kuhn told jurors not to be swayed by testimony unrelated to the indictment — that Alamo may have had multiple wives, or that he may have set up businesses to evade taxes. He said prosecutors deliberately strayed from the specific charges against Alamo.
"Was it to give Tony a fair trial or was it to turn the jury into a moral mob?" Kuhn asked.
Alamo is accused of taking five young girls across state lines for sex between 1994 and 1995 after "marrying" them. Defense lawyers say prosecutors targeted him because the government is anti-Christian. Alamo has also said the Vatican is behind his troubles.
Defense attorneys largely stayed away from challenging the accusers' testimony about sex with the evangelist. Alamo's lawyers rested their case Wednesday after persuading the flamboyant minister not to testify. Though he had told reporters he would take the stand, Alamo said Wednesday afternoon he chose not to testify in an "unjust court."
Alamo is charged with violating the Mann Act, a nearly century-old morality law. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Tony Alamo, Yahoo News 41 Comments
[7/31/2009 3:34:02 PM]
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