There were estimated to be over 130 people in attendance today. The marshals made the exception to allow seating on the front bench in the court area. They opened some conference rooms on the second floor to accommodate the crowds. They wanted to be sure that everyone could hear even if they could not see. We were amazed and overwhelmed with the support all of the churches gave today.
The court opened a bit late this morning at 9:12. The judge asked the usual questions as to whether the jury spoke to anyone, or were spoken to, or whether they heard anything about the case. All said they did not.
The defense had one more witness to put on the stand, Bro. Ivan Swarey from Stuarts Draft, VA, Pilgrim Fellowship. The questions had to do with Bro. Ken's integrity and credibility. Ivan has known Ken since childhood, and also on a church level. He gave a good report.
The judge prepared for the closing comments. The defense addressed terminology used in Ken's charge, specifically about "willfully" and "aiding and abetting".
The prosecution (Paul Vandegraaf) prepared charts and various documents to be used in their closing comments to the jury. They stressed the issue of "intent", and reviewed the materials they covered last week. Among other issues, they talked about the fact that Lisa kidnapped her daughter; they discussed the issue of venue (place of trial) with the argument that it is right that the trial is held in Vermont; they discussed the matter of clandestine acts.
The defense (Joshua Autry) made another presentation, and discussed the matter of reasonable doubt. The government had Timo Miller's deposition as their key witness, and he insisted consistently that he did not think he was doing anything illegal. He stressed that Lisa had the right and privilege to travel freely in Nicaragua. Three things he stressed was 1) make sure you are not breaking the law; 2) make sure your neighbor is not breaking the law; and 3) consider how you interpret the law. There is the presumption of innocence unless and until the government gives proof beyond a reasonable doubt. There were a number of related points given in regard to intent and reasonable doubt. The defense also discussed a number of points on how to conduct a deliberation.
The prosecution (Eugenia Cowles) made the final comments. She also talked about reasonable doubt, but from a different perspective than the defense. She discussed many points of these co-conspirators breaking the law by intent and by clandestine acts. The jury's responsibility, she said, is to bring a verdict that Ken is guilty of intent.
That concluded the closing comments. The jury was dismissed, and the judge had comments with the attorneys. The jury came back in, and the judge gave the charge to the jury.
The jury took a lunch break, and went to the jury room to begin deliberations. While the jury was in deliberation everyone needed to move out of the courtroom. Many people moved up the street to the church house we were using, and spent the time in fasting and singing and prayer. That was a refreshing time for everyone. We had the understanding that we would be given sufficient time to get back to the courtroom when the jury finished. Some time later we were called in, as the jury had a question about a part of Timo's deposition, and the judge needed to give direction to that.
After the jury was dismissed the judge spoke to the audience, complimenting everyone for their cooperation and attentiveness. He commented about the excellent behavior of the children, and expressed great appreciation for the respect that was shown by everyone. We also want to express appreciation to everyone who attended for their exemplary conduct.
The jury returned at 3:54, approximately three hours after they were dismissed. This time also included their lunch break. The jury had been given two charges, 1) to determine whether Ken was guilty of aiding and abetting the removal of a child from the United States with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights; and 2) to determine whether the venue was appropriate. On count 1, the jury ruled "guilty". On count 2, the jury ruled venue in Vermont was appropriate.
The judge made closing comments, expressing appreciation to the jurors for their work. He understands it was a difficult case. The judge and the attorneys agreed that Ken is on bail, and has 30 days, beginning at the date of the trial, to turn himself in to the court. At that time the judge will pronounce sentence.
We ask that you continue to pray for Bro. Ken and his family, as we are sure you will. We all have sadness about this ruling. Yet, we are reminded again and again that God is in control, and that He will somehow receive glory from this. We are also very grateful to have been able to leave a Christian witness in Burlington, VT. The marshals on duty were very respectful, as were the defense and prosecuting attorneys. We have no complaints on that part.
After court dismissal, many gathered on the sidewalk opposite the courthouse and sang for nearly an hour. Bro. Owen Yoder, Aroda, VA led the singing. Some saw the marshals and the prosecutor and defense staff at open windows in the court house. This also served as a time of refreshment and encouragement for all of us.
As some of you may know, Janet Jenkins is filing a lawsuit against Ken and a number of our people, as well as other businesses. Pray for her, and also for the ones that are being attacked in this proposed lawsuit.
We will try to make updates as the time of Ken's sentencing approaches.