SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - There were big developments on the seventh day of an involuntary manslaughter trial of two former Chatham County Sheriff's Deputies and a nurse, charged after the death of Mathew Ajibade.
Tuesday, the prosecution rested just before lunch, giving all three defense lawyers a chance to file motions for directed verdicts for the charges each defendant faces.
Motioning for a direct verdict essentially means the defense believes whatever evidence was presented for jurors to make a ruling on a specific charge - is legally insufficient. That said, judge Bass did grant a directed verdict on Tuesday, acquitting Greg Brown of involuntary manslaughter.
Nurse Gregory Brown's attorney, Tom Withers, Maxine Evans' attorney, Bobby Phillips, and Jason Kenny's attorney, Willie Yancey, all filed, but it was Withers who had the most convincing argument, just after jurors were dismissed for lunch.
"A reasonable nurse, who has six years' experience in corrections; what would a reasonable nurse in these circumstances do? And, what is it that he's seen that puts a duty on him to do more than a restraint check," said Christy Barker, Assistant District Attorney.
"They are making it up as they've gone along. And respectfully, I think this is where the court has to step in," said Tom Withers, Greg Brown's attorney.
Judge James Bass, Jr. did - at least on the involuntary manslaughter charge for Greg Brown, again, acquitting him of that charge.
"I was thinking to myself 'what is the standard of care as to Mr. Brown under count 7; what was your evidence?' It certainly wasn't in Corizon policy; certainly wasn't in the sheriff's policy. I heard no evidence; a medical expert; as what the standard of care was or conduct. So, I'm granting the directed verdict acquittal as to count seven, as to Mr. Brown."
Count seven, which was the involuntary manslaughter charge against Brown, stated that Brown caused Ajibade's death by failing to monitor him while he was in restraints.
Brown is still charged with public record fraud and making a false statement, which prompted his attorney to call in Corizon health professionals, to talk about not only the policies, but also the procedure when it comes to filling out restraint chair logs.
"Tell the members of the jury how often medical has to check on someone who is in a restraint chair," asked Withers.
"If security puts an inmate in a restraint chair, we check them every two hours. The first signature, it's our initial for the first two hours, and then after that every two hours," replied Debra Thrift, Corizon LPN.