Cross-examination overheats in Bridgewater trial again
By JUAN MCCARTNEY ~ Guardian Senior Reporter ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
A firestorm erupted in the trial of former Senator Pleasant Bridgewater and ambulance driver Tarino Lightbourne yesterday, as Lightbourne's attorney Carlson Shurland cross-examined an attorney for American actor John Travolta.
As Shurland shot a barrage of questions at Michael McDermott, things reached a fever pitch in the courtroom as the two men traded barbs and made commentary during the cross-examination in direct contravention of repeated warnings by Senior Justice Anita Allen.
It culminated in Allen shouting at Shurland to take his seat as she sought to bring the cross-examination under control.
Lightbourne and Bridgewater are accused of conspiring and attempting to extort $25 million from Travolta after the death of his 16-year-old son Jett Travolta on Grand Bahama on January 2.
During yesterday's proceedings, Shurland sought to dismantle McDermott's
He started off asking McDermott if he wanted to reference any films.
"You used 'Mad Max' on Ms. Bridgewater; you used 'A Few Good Men' on [her attorney Murrio Ducille]," Shurland said. "Have you figured out which movie you're going to use on me?"
Allen cautioned Shurland and McDermott about the kinds of comments they make as they continue.
But things got worse from there.
When Shurland suggested that McDermott lied to Bridgewater when he said their conversations had been private, the men traded verbal jabs.
Ultimately, McDermott denied that as well, telling Shurland, "Please, let's move on."
At that point, Shurland started yelling at McDermott.
"You don't run things in here," Shurland said. As the two exchanged insults, Allen attempted to intervene, however, the men continued yelling at each other.
"I'm not going to allow him to vacillate, your honor," said Shurland.
Allen told Shurland that she was in charge of the court, to which Shurland said: "I'm not going to let him get out of hand... because the court is not reigning him in."
Allen demanded that he take his seat. She then reminded him of the rules of the court.
"I'm not going to put up with it," she said. "I have indicated what the rules are and I expect them to be followed."
However, the cross-examination remained contentious.
Shurland said that McDermott seemed to "have verbal diarrhea."
Allen demanded he withdraw his comments and apologize to the court, which Shurland did.
"I have had enough," Allen said. "Please, let's get through this matter. We have persons who have been here almost three weeks."
Shurland suggested that McDermott planned to have Lightbourne killed if he would not turn over a document the ambulance driver suggested could be detrimental to the actor if made public.
McDermott denied that suggestion.
Shurland also accused McDermott and The Royal Bahamas Police Force of intentionally editing a videotaped conversation between McDermott and Lightbourne on January 20.
He suggested that unlike a videotaped conversation between Bridgewater and McDermott the day before, the January 20 tape did not show Lightbourne entering the room.
Shurland suggested that between the time Lightbourne entered the room and took his seat he asked McDermott if he was being recorded.
"No," McDermott said yesterday. "You're making that up."
Shurland also accused McDermott of leaking information to The Tribune newspaper regarding an alleged attempted extortion against Travolta in a story that appeared in its January 19 edition.
That story appeared the same day that McDermott met Bridgewater at the Sheraton Resort on Cable Beach.
In the videotape of that conversation, McDermott can be seen holding the newspaper, and asking Bridgewater who might have spoken to the newspaper.
The Florida-based attorney was also accused of compensating Senator Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Travolta's local attorney, for entrapping Bridgewater.
Maynard-Gibson has testified that she met with Bridgewater to discuss the document and Lightbourne's alleged threats and alleged demands in Grand Bahama on January 15.
"So how much were you going to give Allyson Maynard-Gibson for setting this all up?" Shurland asked. "You didn't pay her to set this all up did you?"
Allen directed McDermott not to answer the question, as it was not relevant.
"It's not relevant that (Maynard-Gibson) set this all up?" Shurland asked Allen.
The Florida attorney was also accused of trying to secure the document weeks before he came to The Bahamas on January 17.
"Let me suggest that you tried to contact the ambulance driver, Mr. Marcus Garvey," Shurland said.
"Categorically no," McDermott said.
Garvey was reportedly the driver of an ambulance that intercepted the ambulance Lightbourne was driving, on its way to the Rand Memorial Hospital on January 2 after Jett suffered a seizure at Travolta's Old Bahama Bay vacation home that morning.
Garvey is expected to testify as a witness for the defense in the coming days.
McDermott's testimony ended yesterday.
Prosecutors are expected to call two police officers to testify today.
Thursday October 8, 2009
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