Friday, February 15, 2008

Cutts verdict high on silence, low on drama

After surviving the media crush outside the courthouse in Canton long enough to return to Akron to file my stories, I can tell you that it was kind of like a candy bar ... smooth on the inside, but crunchy on the outside to say the least.

Inside, Judge Charles Browns left no room for miscommunication from the first moment he took the bench. He told the audience that he wouldn't tolerate even a cough from the gallery .. and fortunately, he never had to deal with anyone getting out of line.

Both families held in their emotions .. .and so did Bobby Cutts. His attorney told us later that Bobby sat through the verdict instead of standing under orders from Deputies. The courtroom looked like Secret Service protecting a major political figure -- watching the crowd and not the target.

Outside, it was a different story. The judge's decision to outlaw interviews in the courthouse created a mob mentality on Tuscarawas Avenue. Both families were forced out of the same courtroom door and into the high noon, cold air traffic and a sea of media. The result was family members running from reporters as though the journalists were holding torches and pitchforks. The reality was that most of the journalists simply wanted to afford relatives a chance to comment without invading personal space or adding to the stress.

In other case I've covered, Judges have allowed the media to stay in their coutroom and use the pool camera for interviews. That way, subjects only face one camera instead of a mass .. and those who don't want to talk can indicate such and leave with dignity. I'm glad no one got hurt trying to run across the busy noon traffic on Tuscarawas Avenue.

So now we'll make plans to return for the penalty phase ... which is coming up beginning Feb. 25th. Same jurors in the same courtroom facing the same suspect .. but with a different mission -- to determine if Bobby Cutts lives or dies.

I'd expect Cutts to take the stand again .... in part feeling like his testimony the first time around allowed him to escape the more serious charge in regards to the murder of Jessie. I'd be surprised if he didn't speak his mind again to try and save his life.

I'm back in Canton now... live at 5, 6, 6;30, and 7 .. then out to Kent to tape NewsNight Akron .. then back to anchor our Akron-Canton News coverage at 10.

Busy day .. sure glad we didn't also a Presidential candidate in town to cover ... :)

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