Richard Baumgartner in federal court. Sketch by: Mike C. Berry
Both sides have rested in the federal trial of former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner; closing arguments are set to begin on Tuesday morning.
Prosecutors rested their case Monday morning after calling their final two witnesses. Knox County General Sessions Judge Andrew Jackson and Knox County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Blevins testified that Baumgartner approached them separately in 2010 about Castleman. They were involved in cases against her.
Both men described the encounters as brief, and said that Baumgartner told them to "do what you can do." But, both men also said that Baumgartner did not ask them for special favors for Castleman. That is similar to testimony two other Knox County judges gave in court last Friday.
After the prosecution rested, the defense called only one witness. Attorney John Boucher was appointed by Baumgartner to represent his former mistress, Deena Castleman. Boucher represented Castleman a number of times between 2009-2011. He testified that he met Castleman because Baumgartner appointed him to represent her on a simple-possession charge.
Boucher told the court he did not know about drug deals between Baumgartner and Castleman, nor did he know that Baumgartner was popping pills. He said he withdrew as Castleman's council when he found out about the allegations against Baumgartner earlier this year.
As expected, Baumgartner did not testify on his own behalf.
Also in court Monday, U.S. Magistrate Ronnie Greer dismissed one of the seven misprision of a felony charges against Baumgartner. The defense had entered a motion to acquit Baumgartner on all counts on the basis of insufficient evidence. Defense attorney Ann Short argued that the majority of testimony from prosecution witnesses had nothing to do with the charges against Baumgartner.
Ultimately, Judge Greer decided that there is sufficient evidence for the jury to make a decision on all charges, except for count three. That count involves Baumgartner allegedly covering up Castleman's alleged involvement in a drug conspiracy to Anderson County Criminal Court Judge John Elledge.
Judge Greer called a recess at 3 p.m. on Monday because of weather concerns. Two of the jurors live in the higher elevations where snow is forecasted; they expressed concerns to the court clerk on Monday morning about getting home before snow started to fall. Judge Greer told the court he wanted everyone home by dark for their safety.
Closing arguments are set to begin at 9:30 am on Tuesday, weather-permitting. Ideally, attorneys will deliver those arguments and then the court will hand the case over to the jury.
Baumgartner was originally indicted on seven counts of misprision of a felony. That means the former judge is accused of covering up a drug conspiracy involving his mistress, Deena Castleman, by misrepresenting the nature of their relationship, and what he knew about the conspiracy.
Investigative Reporter Hillary Lake will be in court Tuesday morning for closing arguments and will have a live report on 10News at Noon.