Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry S. Goren told a D.C. Superior Court jury yesterday that the 10 young persons on trial for murder "witnessed it all, they participated in it all . . . and they all left, leaving Catherine Fuller to die in that dirty, vacant garage."
Presenting the prosecution's closing argument after 21 days of testimony, Goren asked the jurors to relive the "brutal events" that occurred on Oct. 1, 1984, when, he said, the 99-pound mother of six was selected at random as the group's robbery victim.
In seeking convictions, Goren recounted the evidence in dramatic detail, and told jurors it was a "fast-moving, emotional and brutal event . . . , and no two people who saw it could ever come away and describe it in the exact same way."
He told how the 48-year-old Fuller was followed, pushed into an alley near Eighth and H streets NE and then kicked beaten and struck by a two-by-four. "But," Goren said, "that wasn't enough."
Fuller then was carried down the alley and into a litter-strewn garage where Levy Rouse, 20, thrust a foot-long pole into her rectum as Alphonso Harris, 23, shouted "shove it up more," Goren said, his voice rising with emotion.
Goren's summation was followed by closing arguments from three defense attorneys. Lawyers for the other seven defendants are expected to give their summations today. Judge Robert M. Scott is expected to instruct the jurors on Friday.
Goren told jurors that defense lawyers would stress conflicts in the prosecution testimony and say that lies had been told to the police by some of the witnesses, including the two men who had testified in exchange for pleading guilty to reduced charges in Fuller's death and three other eyewitnesses, but he pleaded with them to "put yourselves in their shoes and bodies" when looking at conflicts in testimony.
"This was a world of nicknames . . . ," he said listing the nicknames of the defendants' -- including "Snot Rag," "Hollywood" and "Fella" -- and those of witnesses, such as "Girl Girl."
This was "a world where young people smoke marijuana and PCP and think nothing of it . . . a world where instead of wearing watches people tell time by the television . . . ," Goren said, "a world where loyalty to one's comrades is so much greater than to the community . . . a world where the police are the enemy."
Emphasizing the amount of evidence that he said linked each of the nine young men and one young woman to Fuller's murder, Goren pointed out that there had been numerous discrepancies in defense alibis and testimony.
"Mr. [Levy] Rouse testified he was with Christopher Taylor . . . . Why don't you go back into the jury room and count how many times Christopher Taylor changed his story," said Goren, pointing out the seven witnesses who testified that Rouse was involved.
Of the alibi presented by Christopher Taylor and Kelvin D. Smith, both 20, Goren scoffed at a key phone call that the two men said had informed them about a death in the alley. "They got a phone call on the day of the murder that came before the police even discovered the body," said Goren.
Finally, Goren listed every defendant's name and said there was "only one conclusion . . . . Guilty on armed robbery, guilty on kidnaping, guilty on . . . felony murder."
The three defense attorneys who delivered their closing arguments yesterday blasted the government's case against their clients, but focused their most strident attacks on Calvin L. Alston and Harry J. Bennett, the two participants who testified for the government in exchange for reduced charges.
"He's the man that signed that woman's death warrant," said defense lawyer Frederick Sullivan of Alston. Sullivan represents 20-year-old Timothy Catlett who had been identified by six witnesses as a participant in Fuller's murder. "This whole thing happened because Calvin Alston came into that park . . . . Is that the testimony you can credit?
Alston, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder just before the scheduled start of the trial, testified earlier that he suggested that the group "get paid" that afternoon and pointed out Fuller.
"How did he get his mouth to form that word friend," lawyer Michele Roberts asked of Harry Bennett's testimony that he initially was trying to "protect his friend" when he did not identify her client Alphonso L. Harris to police. Bennett, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and robbery, later implicated Harris, also known as "Monk," who Roberts denied was a friend of Bennett.
Roberts also reminded the jury that Bennett and Alston were the only two government witnesses who said Harris was in the alley. She emphasized that 10 witnesses -- including four government witnesses -- did not identify Harris as being in the alley.
Roberts told the jury that prosecutor Goren made a "big to-do" in his closing argument that Harris' six witnesses had made conflicting statements about the time of certain events.
"If four people can tell you with precision what happened at 4:17 a year and a half ago, then ladies and gentlemen watch your purse."
A number of the police detectives assigned to the case, all wearing pink ties in a show of solidarity and attending the trial for the first time, left the courtroom shaking their heads following Roberts' arguments yesterday.
"She was brilliant," said one, "but we got the right man."