Jury hearsabout day of slaying

Jim Martyka

Family members walked into the courtroom wearing buttons with a picture of University student Kami Talley to hear lawyers make opening arguments Tuesday in the trial of Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs, the man charged with murdering Talley.
Buggs, Talley’s ex-boyfriend, is charged with killing her at her workplace in northeast Minneapolis last Valentine’s Day. He was apprehended at a relative’s house in Alexandria, Va., three months later. The couple, who had a preschool-age daughter, also had a history a domestic violence.
Talley was shot eight times in the stomach and uttered the words “Butch” and “Buggs” to police before she died. Prosecutors say Talley’s last words point solely to Buggs as her killer. Defense attorneys allege that people have assumed Buggs was her killer because of their past relationship.
“You must ask yourself, could this happen any other way?” said defense attorney Maria Sass. “You will find that at the end of this trial, your answer will be ‘yes.'” Sass told 15 jurors that during the trial they will not be shown any physical evidence that proves Buggs is the killer.
Prosecuting attorney Judith Hawley said, however, that all the evidence, including a shopping bag with Buggs’ fingerprint on it allegedly used to conceal the gun, a will written by Buggs found at his house and a number of threatening phone calls, points to Buggs as the murderer.
“You will be convinced, without reasonable doubt, that this defendant is guilty,” Hawley said.
The jury consists of six women and nine men, two of whom are African-American. Jury selection lasted for a week and a half, partially because attorneys had trouble finding candidates who had not heard of the case before.
Even before the jury was brought into the courtroom Tuesday, defense attorneys made a motion for a mistrial based on the fact that jurors might have seen the buttons family members were wearing outside the courtroom, thus influencing their decision. When Judge Peter Albrecht denied the motion, defense attorneys then asked that the jurors be sequestered during the trial. Albrecht denied that request, but ordered that family members remove the buttons.
After the opening arguments, prosecuting attorneys called people who worked with Talley as their first witnesses. Most of the questioning was about the layout of the building and how the killer could have entered and exited.
All three employees testified that they heard yelling followed by gunshots and then their manager telling them to evacuate the building.
One witness, Julie Blilie, who was a part-time receptionist at Talley’s workplace, said she saw a man enter the building in a hurry carrying a red bag. However, she said she did not get a good look at the man.
During cross-examination, defense attorney John Lucas noted that Blilie did not identify Buggs as the man she saw in a photo lineup operated by Minneapolis police the day after the incident. She did, however, identify another man as the one she might have seen.
Prosecuting attorneys called an officer and a sergeant that arrived on the scene as witnesses. Sgt. Carl McCarthy testified that Talley identified Buggs when asked who shot her.
Officer Bruce Carlson told prosecutors how police secured the scene of the murder, as well as how they searched for the suspect. During cross-examination, Carlson said he only reported on actions he was directly involved in and did not personally hear Talley’s last words because he wasn’t close enough.
As court adjourned for the day, lawyers and family members would not comment on the case.
The trial is scheduled to last for the next two weeks. If found guilty, Buggs could face up to life in prison without parole.