Defense testimony began Monday afternoon in jail abuse trial in which two former Harrison County jailers are charged with abusing inmates. Shortly after 1:30pm, the government rested its case against defendants Ryan Teel and Rick Gaston.
Their conclusion followed more testimony form former jailers who all spoke about the widespread use and acceptance of excessive force in the booking area of the Harrison County Jail.
Former jailer Regina Rhodes was the first to testify Monday. She again recounted her involvement in the assault against inmate Jessie Lee Williams, Junior.
She told the jury, "There was no reason for us to be hitting Mr. Williams after he was handcuffed. It should have been over."
Also, testifying Monday morning was former jailer Morgan Thompson. He also confirmed the widespread use of excessive force within the booking department. He too described the actions of Ryan Teel against inmate Jessie Lee Williams.
He told the jury Teel was outraged as he continued to hit and kick the restrained inmate. Thompson said he heard Teel shout at one point, "I'm going to straight up kill your ass."
Defense Attorney Jim Davis, who represents Teel, moved to dismiss the case against his client arguing that prosecution witnesses should not have been allowed to give their opinion about what is or isn't excessive force. Defense attorneys for defendant Rick Gaston field a similar motion.
Judge Louis Guirola denied both motions for dismissal. The judge told the defense attorneys, "There are many questions this jury must resolve, but there is plenty of evidence before them."
Attorney Davis also argued unsuccessfully to have the two cases separated. The judge has denied that motion several times previously and did so again Monday.
Jim Davis was up first with the defense for Teel. He told the court his defense for Teel will show that no excessive force was used, only that force which was reasonable and necessary to maintain control of inmates.