Anthony Fortunato, whose lawyer has been trying to build a case casting doubt on hate crime charges in the Michael Sandy trial by asserting that his client is gay, has chosen to testify in his own defense.
The assistant district attorney Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi had her turn with him yesterday. The New York Times was clearly impressed with her performance:
"Working from a typed outline organized by category, she asked yes-or-no questions and cut off elaboration. Over and over, she confronted Mr. Fortunato with his own words, taken from direct testimony and online messages, asking, 'That was another lie, yes or no?' Mr. Fortunato watched her ask each question, then turned to the jury. As Ms. Nicolazzi led him through a binary narrative of the attack, he began to contest small details, to change the subject and to resort to sarcasm. Asked if he had thought someone on a gay Web site would be easy to manipulate, he said, 'It was consensual.' Asked if he had planned to meet the gay man for sex, he said, 'It was a possibility.' Asked if the beach had been dark, he said, 'Fairly dark.' Asked if the beach consisted of sand alongside the ocean, he said, 'As most.' At midafternoon, the judge sent the jury out, then warned spectators against giving Mr. Fortunato hand signals or whispered cues. 'I understand tensions are running high,' said the judge, Jill Konviser-Levine. 'That’s understandable.' When the jury returned, Ms. Nicolazzi stood. She was pacing now, three steps left and three back right, raising her voice a notch to confront Mr. Fortunato with his statements to the police. 'So what you chose to tell them was a lie, or leaving things out,' Ms. Nicolazzi said. 'Yes or no?' Mr. Fortunato considered that for a moment, then said: 'Leaving things out.'"
In related news, there is a memorial service and vigil planned for Michael Sandy on the one-year anniversary of his death. Details after the jump....