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Published: Friday, 11/19/2010

Defense rests in Sheriff Telb's criminal trial

Attorneys representing Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and three other employees rested their defense in U.S. District Court in Toledo on Friday, concluding three weeks worth of testimony.

Judge David Katz adjourned the proceedings for more than a week until Nov. 30, when the jury of eight women and seven men will return to hear closing arguments and jury instructions. The judge told jurors that they will then begin deliberations.

The last of the case was presented on day 12 of the criminal trial of Sheriff Telb, Internal Affairs Capt. Robert McBroom, and retired sheriff's employees Sgt. John Gray and Deputy Jay Schmltz.

The four men are charged with crimes associated with the 2004 death of inmate Carlton Benton. Mr. Benton, 25, who was in custody awaiting trial on aggravated murder charges, died June 1, 2004, after spending two days on life support.

Sergeant Gray is charged with applying a sleeper hold that allegedly triggered Mr. Benton's death.

The six interviews conducted by Captain McBroom in 2004 while investigating allegations of Mr. Benton's death were played for the jury Friday.

Among the recordings is a nearly 15 minute 2004 interview in which Sergeant Gray claims he did not apply pressure to Mr. Benton's neck but instead simply held the struggling inmate while officers struggled to release his restraints.

Also played for the first time in court was the brief interview of Deputy Schmeltz, who offered a limited explanation of what happened in the cell and said he did not see a sleeper hold applied.

The defense's last witness, Samuel Faulkner, was called to the stand to testify about lateral vascular neck restraints, or a sleeper hold. Mr. Faulkner, who testified he has an extensive history in the military and police training, demonstrated how a proper sleeper hold is applied.

Using defense attorney Neil McElroy as a model, Mr. Faulker placed his arm around Mr. McElroy's neck, his elbow pointing forward protecting his throat.

He showed that to render someone unconscious, pressure must be applied – using the bicep and forearm – on the side of the neck where the carotid arteries run. By stopping the flow of blood to the brain, oxygen is restricted, he said.

Mr. Faulkner said that sleeper holds were not dangerous techniques when used properly and that Sergeant's Gray's use of the hold was a "correct application" because it was the "least injurious means of trying to control that situation."

Sergeant Gray, who retired in June, 2004, is charged with violating civil rights when he allegedly applied the sleeper hold that rendered Mr. Benton unconscious.

The sheriff and Captain McBroom, who conducted the 2004 internal affairs investigation of the death, are charged with covering up a felony and providing false information to the FBI. Deputy Schmeltz is charged with falsifying reports, pushing a shackled Mr. Benton, resulting in a fall, and providing false information to the FBI.



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