Judge rejects Buggs’ appeal

Andrew Tellijohn

A ruling by Hennepin County Court Judge H. Peter Albrecht confirmed that Kami Talley’s last words will be admitted as evidence in the murder trial of Louis Cardona “Butch” Buggs.
Albrecht denied a defense motion Monday to send the issue to the Minnesota State Court of Appeals.
He said it’s unusual for an issue to go before an appeals court during the trial, and it would have taken a lot of time.
“It would have derailed the whole trial,” Albrecht said.
Talley, who was fatally shot on Valentine’s Day last year, told police officers who arrived on the scene that “Butch” shot her. When asked again, she responded, “Buggs” before she died.
In order for Talley’s last words to be allowed, Albrecht had to rule that Talley knew her death was imminent. His finding that Talley knew she was going to die is based on the severity of her wounds — she received eight gunshots to the stomach.
“If you know you’re dying, you’re not going to lie,” he said.
Defense attorneys John Lucas and Pia Sass argued that the dying words are the most important issue of the case.
“We’re talking about something that may well determine the outcome of this case,” Lucas said. “This is so vital, we’ve got to have this ruling.”
Albrecht said the issue is the most important of the trial, but rejected pleas from Lucas and Sass to send the issue to the appeals court. He said the appeals court can examine the entire case after it ends.
The defense also moved to strike the prospective 64-person jury pool that on Friday was given initial questionnaires. After reviewing initial interviews, Sass was concerned that jurors might have prior knowledge of the case and might not reflect percentages of minorities in society.
Albrecht said he won’t know whether a new jury pool is necessary until partway into jury selection. “The jury needs to be reflective of the general make-up of the community,” he said.
Albrecht will rule on the jury’s composition today. If the jurors are considered too biased, the trial might have to be moved to another location. That won’t be determined until after jury selection begins, which is expected to commence after the judge’s ruling on the pool.
Buggs faces first-degree murder charges in the case. If convicted, he could face life in prison without the chance for parole.