Talley’s mother takes stand

Jim Martyka

Family members cried as Deborah Wood, former University student Kami Talley’s mother, testified Tuesday in the trial of Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs, the man charged with killing Talley.
In an eventful and emotional day of testimony, jurors also heard details about Buggs’ arrest, which was arranged by his mother. They were also told about the bullets fired to kill Talley last Valentine’s Day at her workplace in northeast Minneapolis, and they heard accounts from Talley’s friends about her last day.
In the afternoon session, a tearful Wood described in detail the day in August 1995 when Talley was beaten by Buggs.
Wood spoke on the phone with both Talley and Buggs before the incident because they were having trouble locating each other. They eventually met, with their daughter Ambreen, at Talley’s grandmother’s house. A short while later, Wood received a call from Talley asking for help. When Wood arrived, she found Talley severely beaten.
“She was all beat up,” Wood said. “Her face was mangled … I thought I was going to throw up.”
Buggs pleaded guilty for the assault and served three months at the Hennepin County Workhouse. He was also told not to contact Talley.
Wood also told jurors about threatening phone calls she overheard between Buggs and Talley. During cross-examination, defense attorney John Lucas pressed Wood about the exact content of these phone calls, stating her comments Tuesday differed from an earlier testimony to officials.
Wood also testified about her contact with Talley on the day Talley died. Talley spoke with her on the phone minutes before she was shot.
But lawyers focused on an affidavit Wood filed last week for protection against Buggs both for herself and Ambreen. Though Wood told defense attorneys she has had no contact with Buggs since the murder, she wanted the order to prevent Ambreen from receiving any messages from Buggs through his mother or sister.
When asked if Ambreen should have contact with these three, Wood replied, “in no way at all.” Wood said she feared these people would try to relay messages or “take her.”
After Wood’s testimony, the court adjourned for the day. Testimony will continue through the week.
Earlier, before the jury was brought in for the morning session, lawyers from both sides argued about whether a special agent could testify that Denise Love, Buggs’ mother, set up a location for the agent to arrest Buggs. Despite complaints from the prosecution, Judge Peter Albrecht ruled that the witness could not mention this in front of jurors.
“We don’t have to involve his mother … I suspect she was trying to save his life,” he said. “I feel it would be a cleaner case without the mother mentioned.”
Albrecht also sustained a defense motion to have the agent leave out mention of Buggs’ attempt to reach for a knife he had tucked in his pants when he resisted arrest. “All the jury needs to know is that there was a struggle during the arrest,” he said.
Later, when FBI Special Agent David Altenburg testified, he told jurors he received a tip on April 20 about where Buggs would be.
Officials had been searching for Buggs since February. Altenburg said that he received a call in February from Minneapolis officials stating that they thought Buggs might be in Alexandria, Va., where Altenburg was stationed. Until April, however, he hadn’t been able to locate Buggs.
Altenburg told jurors that after being told about the tip, he went to the house of Buggs’ sister, where Buggs allegedly was. When Altenburg got there, Buggs had already been stopped by two Alexandria officers. Altenburg identified himself and told Buggs that he was under arrest for murder.
At that point, Altenburg testified, Buggs started to run away. He and another officer chased Buggs for about 40-50 yards. After warning Buggs that he would shoot the sub-machine gun he had with him if Buggs didn’t stop, the other officer tackled Buggs. The officer sprayed Buggs with pepper spray to stop him from struggling. Then, Altenburg said, he hit Buggs with his gun after Buggs refused to put his hands behind his back. Buggs was then peacefully taken to an Alexandria jail.
The first witness of the day, however, was David Linden, a forensic scientist with the Minneapolis Police Department. Linden, who started his examination Monday, testified that bullet casings discovered on the crime scene were 9mm Luger shells. The same type of bullets were found when police searched Buggs’ sister’s house in Alexandria.
Police never found a gun while gathering evidence, however.
During cross-examination, Lucas questioned Linden about how common this type of bullet is, to which Linden replied it is a very common bullet.
Lucas also asked about the many different types of guns that fire this type of bullet. Linden said that he couldn’t determine what kind of gun was used to shoot Talley without actually seeing it.
During a lunch break, Albrecht accepted a piece of evidence, on which both sides disagreed, thus triggering a slight argument. The evidence submitted last week was a bullet retrieved from Talley’s body during the autopsy. Defense attorneys complained that the person who identified the bullet never saw it before it was put in an envelope and given to him as evidence.
Also during the break, Albrecht ruled on points defense attorneys wanted to use to discredit Wood during cross-examination.
Albrecht ruled that the defense could not mention any misdemeanor convictions; pending misdemeanor cases; custody disputes between relatives over Ambreen, Talley and Buggs’ daughter; or accusations of theft from Buggs’ house.
Albrecht said defense attorneys could question Wood’s felony convictions of aggravated forgery from 1974 and financial fraud in 1994. However, Lucas only briefly mentioned these in his cross-examination.
Minutes before jurors were brought in for the afternoon session, defense attorney Pia Sass objected to witnesses who had personal relationships with Talley and saw her on the day she died. Hawley said that the witnesses were important, however. “I’m trying to establish a chronology of events of that day by those who were the last to see her,” she said.
After warning Hawley to not play up Ambreen’s feelings over losing her mother, Albrecht allowed Bobbie Jackson, a supervisor at Ambreen’s day care center, and Johnny Woodson, a former University student who was dating Talley at the time, to testify. Both talked about Talley’s actions and behavior on the day she was murdered.
“She was very happy,” said a choked-up Jackson. “She was absolutely wonderful and very happy.”
The prosecution will continue calling witnesses for two more days.
Albrecht also told jurors that the trial was going along smoothly and that it was on schedule. He said he expected the jury deliberations to start either Thursday of Friday.
Whether or not Buggs will take the stand is still in question. Prosecuting Attorney Judith Hawley said they couldn’t call him to the stand because it violates his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself.
But Lucas said there may be plans to have Buggs testify. “It is always the defendant’s choice,” he said. “I’ve had plans to have him testify, but he can change his mind up until the last minute, so we’ll see.”
If Buggs is found guilty, he could face up to life in prison without the option of parole.