Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Friday, March 9, 2012
More police testify

A chaotic scene greeted police officers as they converged on Caroline Street in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, 2009, and tried to separate and quell angry onlookers while treating Marques Butler for a stab wound, according to testimony Thursday in the murder trial of Nicholas Ferro.

Officer Deglys Chavarria testified he was one of the first officers to aid Butler that morning during Fantasy Fest. A crowd quickly formed as he and arriving officers tried to convince the growing throng that Butler was getting the help he needed, Chavarria told jurors.

"I was trying to assure them that [another officer with nursing experience] was treating him and that an ambulance was on the way," Chavarria said.

The defense team of Ed O'Donnell Sr. and his namesake son appeared to be centering the defense on the alleged unruly nature of that crowd to convince the jury that Ferro, 25, was legally defending himself and his friend, Jorge Averoff, from a group of angry local youths when he stabbed Butler, 23, with a 2½-inch pocketknife.

O'Donnell Sr. also focused part of his line of questioning to Chavarria and Sgt. Sean Brandenburg over the arrest of Daryl Eugene Lewis Jr., a Key West resident who allegedly refused the officers' demands to back away.

Officer Eric Biskup used a Taser to subdue Lewis, according to testimony. Lewis was charged with resisting arrest without violence.

On Wednesday, jurors also saw video captured by Chavarria's in-car camera, called the ICOP system. They also saw video captured by Lt. Alfredo Vazquez's Taser, which was equipped with a camera and audio recorder. Vazquez used his Taser on Ferro, who was running away instead of obeying officers' orders to stay put.

Both videos were turned away from the public viewing area in the courtroom and could be seen only by jurors and members of the court. The audio, however, could be heard by all. Both portrayed a loud and hectic scene full of yelling.

O'Donnell also focused on a transcript of Vazquez's Taser audio that prosecutors paid to have an expert produce by removing background noise. In that transcript, a friend of Ferro's, Rolando Reyes -- who defense attorneys allege was jumped by a group of Key West youths -- tells an officer that there was at least "20 of them."

At least two more officers are expected to testify today, and presiding circuit Judge David Audlin has set aside two weeks for the trial, which may run into next Friday.

Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorneys Miesha Shonta Darrough and Breezye Telfair are painting Ferro as the aggressor in a brawl on Caroline Street between Simonton and Duval streets.

Ferro remains in the Monroe County Detention Center without bail on a charge of second-degree murder and resisting arrest without violence.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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