Our reporter Doug Donovan is sending updates from the coutroom throughout the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon.
Mayor Dixon's defense rested its case at 9:45 a.m. after calling two witnesses: a florist and Rev. Frank M Reid III, Dixon's pastor and spiritual adviser.
Judge Dennis Sweeney scheduled closing arguments for tomorrow morning. He sent the jury home so that the prosecutors and defense attorneys could devise final instructions to give to the jury before it begins deliberating the five charges against Dixon.
Dixon did not take the stand.
The owner of Flower Cart Inc. testified that in January 2004 Dixon's former boyfriend Ronald Lipscomb sent the then-City Council president a $285 flower arrangement. It was delivered to City Hall with a card that read: "To Sheila, Anonymous."
The defense has said that it would argue that Dixon used gift cards donated by developer Patrick Turner because she thought they were just another anonymous gift from Lipscomb.
So getting evidence in about an anonymous gift was crucial. The prosecutors objected to the florist's testimony but lost.
Maryland State Prosecutor Robert Rohrbaugh gambled yesterday by not calling Lipscomb to the stand, taking away the defense's opportunity to make his relationship with Dixon a key part of the mayor's argument.
Sweeney then tossed the theft charge related to the gift cards donated by Lipscomb.
Rohrbaugh's only question to the florist was to reiterate that the floral arrangement was delivered in 2004, nearly two years before Turner's gift cards were delivered.
Reid testified that he knows Dixon to be "honest and forthright" in her many dealings with his church, Bethel AME in Baltimore.
Afterwards he told me that as spiritual adviser to Dixon he prays with her and tells her what Biblical scriptures to read, like the 23rd and 27th Psalms.