Buggs’ case goes to the jury

Andrew Tellijohn

Nearly one year after Kami Talley was murdered, and after two weeks of testimony in the trial for that crime, Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs’ fate is now in the hands of a jury.
Defense attorney John Lucas and prosecuting attorney Judith Hawley presented closing arguments Monday morning in Buggs’ trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Kami Talley.
Shortly after 9 a.m. on Valentine’s Day last year, Talley was found lying in a pool of blood in the ladies’ room at her workplace in Northeast Minneapolis. She died of multiple gunshot wounds about two hours later.
Hawley took one last crack at convincing the jurors that the defense had too many coincidences in its story, saying Buggs “concocted a story that flies in the face of logic — flies in the face of common sense.”
She said he showed no remorse or sadness on the stand or at the table during the trial. She added that Buggs has never taken responsibility for his actions and said that the seven shots fired into Talley’s stomach proved the murder was a mode of revenge.
“This killer was making his own personal angry statement,” Hawley said.
During her recap of the evidence presented in the trial, she said a combination of the fingerprint on the Valentine’s Day gift bag that the shooter used to conceal the gun, the glimpse Talley’s co-worker, Julie Blilie, caught of the killer and Buggs’ leaving town at or near the same time the murder took place were too much for the jury to overlook.
“There is no evidence in this case that points at anyone besides the defendant,” she said.
Not so, said Lucas, who contended the prosecution’s case is entirely circumstantial. Before closing arguments, he requested yet another mistrial, which was denied. However, he said that shoddy police work is the main reason Buggs is standing trial for this crime.
“Is that the kind and quality of evidence you can be confident with in your deliberations?” he asked the jury.
No fingerprints were taken at the crime scene other than the one pulled from the Valentine’s Day bag that matches Buggs’ right thumb. Buggs said he gave the bag to his and Talley’s daughter, Ambreen, in November as part of a birthday gift.
Fueling his accusations is what Lucas described as conflicting testimony from two police officers.
“The testimony of (Minneapolis police officers) Kylie and Carlson doesn’t make any sense together,” he said. “They didn’t get the story straight.”
Lucas also said Talley’s dying words — a key piece of evidence for the prosecution — aren’t as convincing as they sound.
Talley uttered the words “Butch” and “Buggs” to Sgt. Carl McCarthy in the restroom when asked who had shot her.
Lucas said her physical condition at the time might have prevented her from being cognizant of what she was saying.
“Can you know that she was understanding the question?” Lucas asked.
Dr. Susan Seatter testified on Jan. 29 that Talley was semi-conscious when she was admitted to the hospital and was suffering from hypovolemic shock, a condition caused by reduction in the body’s blood volume due to either hemorrhage or dehydration.
Lucas said Talley was focusing only on her present condition.
“(Talley had to) focus on doing what she can to save her life,” Lucas said.
He also commented on the testimony of Rose and Delmar Napue, Talley’s grangparents. They said that Talley’s mother, Deborah Wood, isn’t always honest.
“Are her tears real?” he said, referring to Wood’s reactions. “Of course they are. But suffering a personal tragedy doesn’t automatically make someone a truthful person.”
After three hours of closing arguments, Judge H. Peter Albrecht announced one of the jurors was being excused from the trial because she had nonrefundable airline tickets for a vacation to see her grandson. He said the court knew of her commitment in advance and didn’t think it would matter. Because the trial ran longer than expected, she was released.
Albrecht then gave the jury members their instructions before allowing two alternates to leave before deliberations began. If convicted, Buggs faces life in prison without parole.
Prior to dismissing the jury members, he took one last opportunity to thank them for their attentiveness and patience. “This is one of the best juries I’ve ever seen put together for a case,” he said.