Ross Ulbricht’s defense team will be brief in its presentations this week, with closing arguments possibly coming as early as today.
Judge Katherine Forrest shot down the defense’s plans to bring in Bitcoin expert Andreas Antonopoulos. In a scathing 18-page Opinion & Order, she slams the defense for yet “another tactical choice” and notes how contrary to acceptable protocol, the plans were conveyed at the last minute.
Also blocked from testifying was a second witness, Steven Bellovin, a Columbia University computer science professor. In summing up her decision, Forrest writes:
“Why did the defense choose to proceed as it has? This Court cannot know. Perhaps a tactical choice not to show the defense’s hand; perhaps to try and accumulate appeal points; perhaps something else. In any event, the outcome of these choices is that the Court hereby GRANTS the Government’s motions to preclude the testimony of both experts.”
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During yesterday’s brief session, Forrest also offered Ulbricht the opportunity to testify, to which he declined.
The defense instead brought three character witnesses, who testified on Ulbricht’s “reputation for peacefulness and non-violence.” The first, a 72-year old mental health counselor, said, “Everyone I know who knows Ross sees him as a very peaceful and non-violent person…He’s compassionate, gentle. He always has been, from the time he was a little child.”
The prosecution only bothered to cross-examine one of the witnesses.
All in all, the prospects for Ulbricht look bleak. The government was highly organized and covered all its bases. Joshua Dratel & Co had an uphill battle with little ammunition.