What Used to be a Political Prank Now Deadly Serious for Military Vet Accused of Hitting Former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson with a Pie
Special to the Vanguard
More than 60 jurors were “burned” – dismissed – over the past few days here in Dept. 25 of Sacramento Superior Court, as the jury is at last expected to be finalized early Thursday in the case of the accused thrower of a pie into the face of former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson late last year.
The trial begins in earnest later Thursday after parts of three days were used for jury selection, which turned out to be a chore for the court, defense and prosecutor – potential jurors either saw too many news stories on television or read too much about the case, or they knew the former NBA all-star Johnson or worked for his political campaigns. In one case, one potential juror was his physician.
Opening arguments are expected to be heard Thursday in the trial of Air Force veteran Sean Thompson, who is charged with two felony counts – assaulting a public official and assault and battery. The social justice activist is accused of throwing a pie at Johnson as a political prank.
Although the case was charged as a felony, several jurors voiced doubts that it rose to that level, and Judge Robert Twiss even quipped that Thompson may have only been charged with a felony because of Johnson’s NBA notoriety and status as mayor of Sacramento.
Claire White of the Vallejo law firm Morton & Russo, representing Thompson pro per, is also a young Air Force veteran like Thompson. She maintains that Johnson has avoided being served with a subpoena to testify, and that violates Thompson’s and every accused’s right of confronting their accuser.
Defense counsel is still trying to serve the mayor and his wife with subpoenas to testify, but investigators have been unable to find them after more than a month of searching.
Ms. White noted the DA, in what she said was an “unprecedented move,” refused to call the alleged victim (Johnson) to testify at the trial, possibly because the DA “knows KJ’s testimony under oath will be bad for the prosecution’s case. The constitution gives Sean the right to face his accuser. The DA and former Mayor are both working to deny Sean that right by planning to prosecute Sean without the Mayor’s presence,” said Ms. White.
In fact, at least one juror said it would be difficult to find Mr. Thompson guilty if Kevin Johnson did not testify.
Still, more than a dozen police officers could testify. The defense subpoenaed them and then, when they didn’t show in court last week, convinced another judge to put temporary warrants out for the officers’ arrests.