A Franklin County jury began deliberation shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday in the trial of Internet blogger Jeffrey Weinhaus, who is accused of attempting to pull a gun on two state troopers.
Weinhaus, 47, was charged with interfering with a judicial official, felony possession of a controlled substance, as well as resisting arrest, assault of law enforcement officers and armed criminal action.
The charges of tampering with a judicial officer and resisting arrest would be dismissed Wednesday by Judge Keith Sutherland.
The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 11, 2012, at an MFA gas station on Highway K in St. Clair when Weinhaus was shot four times by troopers after he allegedly attempted to draw his gun from its holster.
Weinhaus was critically injured in the shooting, but recovered and has been incarcerated in the Franklin County Jail since November 2012.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Hugh Eastwood claimed that the testimony of Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Henry Folsom and Cpl. Scott Mertens were contradictory.
"There were so many holes in Folsom's and Cpl. Merten's testimony, that if it were a canoe it would sink," said Eastwood.
He further argued that during the incident Weinhaus was going to the ground to surrender to the officers, not reaching for his gun.
Franklin County Prosecutor Bob Parks contended that evidence on a wrist watch camera worn by Weinhaus affirms the testimony of the troopers because the view of the camera shows it was facing outward toward the troopers, and not in the air. If Weinhaus' hands were raised, the view would have been to his rear and higher from the ground.
"You saw Cpl. Mertens and Sgt, Folsom (on the video)," said Parks. "He (Weinhaus) was going for his gun.
"The officers are not on trial here," Parks added. "What the officers did here was defend themselves."
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State trooper Sgt. Henry Folsom had testified for the state Tuesday afternoon, and continued with testimony about the shooting when he was cross-examination by defense attorney Hugh Eastwood Wednesday morning.
Folsom and his partner, Cpl. Scott Mertens, went to Weinhaus' home in Piney Park Aug. 20, 2012, after Crawford County Judge Kelly Parker alleged to them that Weinhaus had threatened him and other officials in a YouTube video entitled, "The Party's Over."
Folsom said they smelled marijuana coming from inside when Weinhaus opened the door.
Folsom left and came back with a search warrant and seized the computers, some paraphernalia, two pills that later tested positive for morphine, and a small quantity of marijuana.
Folsom testified that it wasn't his idea to arrest Weinhaus on Sept. 11, and he had, in fact, asked to be removed from the case altogether because Weinhaus was agitated with him for taking the computers.
He told the court Weinhaus had contacted him and made several videos admonishing him and threatening to sue him.
Folsom said his supervisor, Lt. Shawn Satterfield, refused the request and told him to arrest Weinhaus and hold him until Sept. 17, the deadline Weinhaus gave unnamed officials in Crawford County to vacate office in his YouTube video.
Both Folsom and Mertens testified Wednesday they were not fearful of Weinhaus, and both said on the stand during court that they had concocted a "ruse" to take him into custody by telling Weinhaus they would give him back his computers if he would meet them at the MFA gas station.
Folsom said he and Mertens didn't expect any trouble from Weinhaus and neither was in uniform or wearing bulletproof vests when they went to arrest Weinhaus at the gas station.
"It was a tactical mistake," Folsom said. "We were lazy."
Folsom said he was shocked when Weinhaus got out of the car wearing a gun.
Eastwood questioned the men extensively on whether they actually saw Weinhaus reach for his gun.
Both men said in their testimonies Weinhaus had opened the flap of a military type holster and both said they saw him reach under the flap before Folsom started shooting.
"He looked at me and said, 'You're going to have to shoot me, man,' " Folsom said. "He had the weapon all the way up (from the holster). I fired two shots to his chest and one to his head to incapacitate him."
Cpl. Jeffrey L. White, a weapons and tactical instructor for the highway patrol, testified later that the officers were following the protocol of their training by using lethal force.
"Lethal force can be used when they perceive a threat to themselves or others," White said.
Mertens told the court earlier in his testimony that he had fired his gun as well, but didn't realize it until after the highway patrol conducted an investigation of the incident. He later was told one of the bullets from his gun had grazed Weinhaus' neck.
White said in high-stress situations it is not uncommon for someone to fire a gun and not hear it.
White, who has special training certification with the National Rifle Association, the FBI and the highway patrol, has been chief firearms instructor for the MSHP since 2007.
He said he had not trained Folsom, but may have instructed Mertens in 2007 or 2008 when all recruits went through his training.
The state also called Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Perry Smith, Troop C, an investigator who collected evidence at the scene after the shooting.
Smith identified photos and evidence Parks presented as the holster and .9 mm pistol Weinhaus and the watch camera Weinhaus was wearing during the incident. He had also searched Weinhaus' car and found, a 12-gauge shotgun, loaded with six shells, a loaded .22 pistol, and another video camera that wasn't in use that day.
Smith said the watch camera wasn't discovered until March 2013, after he had conducted his initial investigation.
On cross examination Eastwood pointed out that Weinhaus wasn't charged with anything related to the weapons in the car and neither Folsom nor Mertens even knew they were there, although Smith said the weapons were "readily apparent and not hidden."
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Parks rested his case, and Eastwood will present his case Thursday.
At the end of the case Wednesday Judge Keith Sutherland ruled on a motion made by Eastwood that due to a lack of evidence, the charges of tampering with a judicial officer and resisting arrest would be dismissed.