Our reporter Doug Donovan will send updates from the coutroom throughout the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon.
As testimony from witnesses for the prosecution continues today in State v. Dixon, here's a few highlights from yesterday's opening statements.
Dixon attorney Arnold Weiner told the jury that the state's star witness and Dixon's former boyfriend, Ronald Lipscomb, will say anything to avoid being charged in the case. When Lipscomb told prosecutors he was no longer communicating with Dixon, Weiner claims, the developer was "burning up the telephone lines with her."
"He called her on Christmas Eve," he said. "On New Years Eve he was on the phone (with her) for 42 minutes."
"In spite of knowing that he would say antyhing about Mrs. Dixon ... they made a deal with him," Weiner said.
Essentiallly, Weiner said, the gift cards to Dixon from Lipscomb were part of a pattern of anonymous gifts the developer gave her, including floral arrangements that he sent with no name attached.
So what about the batch of gift cards from the other developer, Patrick Turner? He wasn't romantically involved with Dixon.
Weiner said Dixon assumed Turner's cards left at her office in an unmarked envelope were a gift from Lipscomb. But if Lipscomb's gifts were always anonymous, how did she know the cards were from Lipscomb?
Further proof that Dixon didn't know the cards came from Turner was that she never thanked him for them, even at a party at which the two were present.
Weiner said Turner's memory on the subject will be "completely hazy" when he testifies and that his statements should be considered with caution.
Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh hopes to include evidence of a third developer giving gift cards to Dixon with the belief that they would be used for needy families. Instead, they contend, she gave them to her staff. A third developer giving gift cards to Dixon helps paint an interesting pattern. The judge, however, refused to allow the prosecution to enter the third developer's assertions into direct evidence, but left open the possibility of using him upon rebuttal.
Rohrbaugh continually tried to pluck at the heart strings of the jurors by harping on the picture of an elected official soliciting gifts for needy families and turning around to use them for herself. He said "needy families" nearly a dozen times.
Dixon bought an Xbox, a Playstation, a DVD of a film called Four Brothers, a video camera and accessories with the gift cards. Some she kept in a Victoria's Secret shopping bag: not the type of bag you use to hand out gifts to needy children, Rohrbaugh said.
"How do we know that (the items) weren't going to needy families?" he asked. Because prosecutors raided her home in June 2008 and found the gifts during their search.
"When you are a public servant and you steal it's a breach of the public trust," he said.
The prosecution began testimony yesterday that appeared to try to show that the gift card solicitations was an informal program that Dixon had initiated and that she was actively involved in promoting. Therefore she was well aware that gift cards given around the holidays were not for her, but for the needy families program.