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CINCINNATI – Attorneys on Monday began their defense of a white former police officer who is expected to try to convince jurors he feared for his life when he fatally shot an unarmed black motorist after a traffic stop in Ohio.
The prosecution rested after a series of state witnesses testified they didn't find any evidence to support Ray Tensing's claim that he was going to be dragged to death as Sam DuBose tried to drive away. Some of the police officers who arrived at the scene testified for the defense Monday that they found Tensing looking shocked and scared.
University of Cincinnati police Officer Jeffrey Van Pelt said Tensing, 26, appeared "white as a ghost."
Defense attorney Stewart Mathews has told jurors he plans to play videotaped testimony from former University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono. He has said he also plans to call Tensing to the stand.
The university fired Tensing after his 2015 indictment on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19, 2015, death of DuBose, 43. The university then restructured its public safety department and made other changes in its policing.
The defense also is likely to call its own video and forensic evidence experts to try to counter those who testified for the prosecution.
A firearms expert testified for the prosecution that Tensing fired his .40-caliber Sig Sauer service revolver between 1 and 2 feet from DuBose's head, and a deputy coroner said the gunshot severed DuBose's brain stem, causing immediate fatal injury.
The firearms expert agreed with a suggestion during cross-examination by Mathews that a car also could be a "deadly weapon." Mathews has told jurors that's how DuBose used his car.
The judge assured jurors Monday she wanted to protect their privacy after allowing a worried alternate juror to leave the case.
"I want you to feel safe," Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan said.
The trial was interrupted Friday over jury concerns that 25-page questionnaires they filled out on a variety of topics could be made public due to news media public records requests. Shanahan said Monday she has reversed her order that would have allowed partially redacted questionnaires released during the trial.
The judge had ordered the jurors' identities shielded before the trial began.
It will continue Tuesday, on Election Day. Both Judge Shanahan and lead Prosecutor Joe Deters are Republicans seeking re-election against Democratic challengers.
Court sessions have been ending at 1 p.m. EST each day.
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