Wisc. Prosecutor: Dem Campaigners Slashed Tires in '04 Election

Witness testimony, cell phone records and other evidence show that five Democratic campaign workers punctured tires on vehicles Republicans intended to use to get out the vote on Election Day 2004, a prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments Thursday.

The son of a congresswoman and the son of a former Milwaukee mayor are among those accused of the vandalism near a Bush-Cheney campaign office. Jurors deliberated for about two hours Thursday afternoon before breaking for the day.

Milwaukee County District Attorney David Feiss told jurors that testimony from several national campaign workers brought to Milwaukee indicated the defendants acted together to cause the damage and that the workers overheard the defendants talking about the vandalism.

"If the defendants had not gone back and bragged to their co-workers, they might have gotten away with it," Feiss said.

Defense attorney Rodney Cubbie questioned the credibility of the national operatives, saying each of them lied to investigators.

"These guys got blamed because they're convenient," Cubbie said.

Feiss said cell phone records place two of the defendants near the scene about the time the vandalism occurred, but Cubbie said the calls could have been made anywhere within a three-mile radius.

The defendants face up to 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted of criminal damage to property. The vandalism forced GOP officials to look for other transportation, delaying workers who were headed to the polls.

Defendant Sowande A. Omokunde is the son of Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, and Michael Pratt is the son of former acting Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt. Also charged were Lewis Caldwell and Lavelle Mohammad, both from Milwaukee, and Justin Howell of Racine.

Democrat John Kerry won Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes in a close race, defeating President Bush by less than 12,000 votes among about 3 million cast.