Local News

Prosecution Rests Case In Phipps Trial

Posted October 28, 2003 6:02 a.m. EST

— The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the Meg Scott Phipps trial.

Phipps, the former state agriculture commissioner, faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges in connection with a campaign finance scandal.

Jurors heard testimony from former Deputy Agriculture Commissioner Mike Blanton. Blanton, who already pleaded guilty for his involvement in the campaign finance scandal, claims Phipps knew about the campaign's illegal activities.

Blanton also told jurors about a meeting with Phipps and Linda Saunders, another former aide, where they discussed altering campaign checks. He said Phipps coached Saunders about the aide's testimony at a 2002 State Board of Elections hearing.

Defense attorneys said they do not plan to have any witnesses testify after the prosecution rests its case. Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

Earlier in the day, jurors watched videotaped testimony of the former state ag commissioner during the 2002 State Board of Elections hearing.

In the hearing, Phipps portrayed herself as a sympathetic character who trusted her campaign staff too much. However, prosecutors believe Phipps lied under oath about what she knew.

"I did not see campaign contributions," Phipps said in that hearing.

Prosecutors have put forth a number of people on the witness stand who have testified that Phipps knew about a repayment of a campaign debt by former aide Bobby McLamb. Prosecutors also say she allegedly took part herself in illegal cash contributions.