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Priest Called as a Defense Witness in Abraham Trial

By Matt Dougherty
Published On: Jul 24 2013 10:14:44 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 15 2014 10:36:39 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

The state rested its case against El Paso businessman Billy Abraham on Wednesday afternoon.

The historic property owner is charged with intoxication manslaughter. Prosecutors say he killed Jay Grady, 47, a homeless man in downtown when he was driving drunk three years ago.

Prosecutors told Judge Patrick Garcia they had nothing further in their case except for one last request: that jurors have the opportunity to visit the site where the alleged hit-and-run occurred.

Judge Garcia was reluctant to rule on the request immediately, citing the difficulty in replicating the scene as it was at the time of the crash on July 20, 2010.

“Now they have a Mercado up there, now they're building a Walgreens. Things have changed,” Garcia said.

Defense attorney Dick DeGuerin said the defense team would be on board, but only if the field trip was to happen during the day.

DeGuerin said street lights that had been out at the time of the crash have been fixed.

The judge is expected to rule on the proposition on Thursday.

Prosecutors brought back an earlier eyewitness of the crash to the stand for the third day in a row.

Juan Antonio Milton-Martinez was asked why he told the jury it looked like Grady was trying to commit suicide at the time of the crash, but did not tell police officers that information during his taped interview the night of the crash.

Milton-Martinez was asked by ADA Denise Butterworth whether or not he reviewed his taped statement to police prior to testifying.

“I can’t answer that question,” Milton-Martinez said.

“why not?” asked Butterworth.

“Because I don’t think it’s proper,” Milton-Martinez said.

The man later testified that he had been pre-occupied during the trial due to his wife’s recent death..

Defense attorneys called two witnesses during the afternoon hours.

The first was a police officer and the second a local priest.

Father Louis Lambert was called to the stand to paint a picture of homelessness in the Segundo Barrio area.

The Jesuit priest has been at Sacred Heart Church for years.

“Most of these men stay in the alleys, because there’s not a lot of traffic, but if they go out on Paisano, they’re hoping someone will offer them food,” Father Lambert said. “When they get up from the street, they are intoxicated, and many of them are lame. I will no longer take Paisano from Mesa to Santa Fe.”

Butterworth asked if the priest is intoxicated when he drives down Paisano. The priest said never.

“Thank you,” said Butterworth.

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