It took eight days to try the case against Pablo Maldonado but less than an hour for a jury to convict the 25-year-old of the murder of 53-year-old Tim Clements.
Both defense attorney Stephen Yekel and District Attorney Layla Zon thanked the jurors for the time – not just in the trial, but during jury selection, before beginning their closing statements Friday morning.
Yekel told jurors to use their common sense, but to also take into consideraion the credibility of the witnesses, including Maldonado's co-defendant's.
“If you have that doubt you have to acquit, the law requires that you acquit,” he told them.
Yekel also spoke quite a bit about Jonathan Harris, the elusive “J-Dawg” that he contends was the one who actually killed Clements. He also spoke to the believeability – or lack thereof – of Christian Caldwell, Brittany Beasley and Katria McClain.
“I don't think Christian Caldwell would know the truth if it came up and bit him... Christian Caldwell took this bat, and he beat Mr. Clements with it. And he was gonna' keep beating him until he didn't get up, because it didn't happen like he said,” Yekel said.
“Mr. Maldonado is not totally innocent and I ask you to find him guilty of those things that he did... Pablo is not guilty of murder, he was not swinging that bat... I ask you to find Mr. Maldonado guilty of what he did do. Of robbery, of forgery, of concealing the death... he's part of that. Find him guilty for what he did... he did not murder Mr. Clements. He set him up, I don't think there's any question about that. I think he ran his mouth and got himself into something he couldn't get out of. It got overblown and nobody thought it would happen, but it did.”
Zon told jurors there was “a dark cloud” hanging over Kirkland Road the week Clements was killed.
“There existed a perfect storm of depraved humanity.. the perfect cast of individuals. A match made in Hell. What a disaster, these group of individuals together... When you match Christian Caldwell and Pablo Maldonado, you get what happened on June 11, 2009. That man over there is not just guilty of murder, he's guilty of robbery, and today we are here for the truth.”
According to Zon, the motive was always money. Not only was Maldonado in debt to Clements for thousands of dollars, he was broke, his bills were due and the “gravy train was coming to a halt.”
“He couldn't do what he wanted to do to Tim Clements on his own, so he manipulates them,” she said. Saying that Caldwell was “street smart” and would never have participated if he didn't think there was something in it for him.
“What he is and who he is and why it wasn't hard for him to take that hammer and strike the hand that fed him... It's tough to swallow coming from these kids, seeing what they are capable of... something very evil, something much worse than them was able to get these kids to do that. And that something is right here sitting at that table. That something is Pablo Maldonado.”
The jury went out to deliberate around 2:20 p.m. and came back with a verdict roughly an hour later, finding Maldonado guilty of malice murder, felony murder, armed robbery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, concealing the death of another, kidnapping and forgery. The penalty phase of the trial will begin Tuesday, when defense attorneys attempt to convince the jury not to sentence Maldonado to death for the murder of Tim Clements.
IN BRIEF, 3:54 p.m.: A jury found Pablo Maldonado guilty on all counts just a few minutes ago. The wife and family of the victim are crying quietly. Check back to Rockdalenews.com later for the full story.