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Final witness testifies in Kelly Thomas trial

A final witness testified Monday in the trial of two ex-cops in the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man.
January 6, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Closing arguments are about to begin in the trial of two former Fullerton police officers in the beating death of mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas. Monday, the final witness was called in the case.

Former Fullerton police officer Manuel Ramos is charged with 2nd-degree murder. Former Fullerton police corporal Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter. They listened in court Monday as the final witnesses testified.

Two doctors, one for the defense, one for the prosecution, each had very different versions of what killed the Kelly Thomas, 37.

Prosecutors say Thomas died due to lack of oxygen during a violent run-in with police on July 5, 2011. The defense argues Thomas could have died at any time because of a weak heart damaged by prior methamphetamine use.

Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist with Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, was called by prosecutors to tell jurors: "Mr. Thomas had no evidence of heart failure. ... His heart was not dilated or enlarged and that did not contribute directly to his death."

Budoff showed an X-ray of a meth user with an enlarged heart, a marked contrast to Thomas's.

Under cross-examination, Budoff did not deny Thomas's heart did have enlarged individual cells.

The defense asked: "You don't dispute that that condition was caused by methamphetamine use?

"No, there's no way to know. ... I can't dispute it," Budoff said.

The jury will have to decide whose testimony is more credible. Jurors received instructions Monday afternoon. Closing arguments are expected to begin Tuesday.


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