BLOG: Testimony continued today pertaining to emails regarding murder investigation of Tamara Greene

DETROIT (WXYZ) – Testimony is underway in Federal Court pertaining to emails regarding the murder investigation of Tamara Greene. Former Police Cheif, Ella Bully-Cummings takes the stand amongst others.

Producer Ross Jones was present in the media room and blogged with live updates as testimony unfolded.

11:29 a.m.

And with that, testimony has wrapped up for this morning. Attorney Norman Yatooma has requested to take the testimony of former mayoral chief of staff Christine Beatty, but her testimony will likely be taken over phone or video conferencing.

11:27 a.m.

Former executive protection unit officer, Mike Martin, is currently being quizzed by an attorney for Norman Yatooma’s law firm.

Like Jones before him, Martin testified that he did not attend the funeral of slain stripper Tamara Greene, despite an affidavit filed with the court by a Detroit police sergeant that says otherwise.

Martin said he did not delete e-mails sent to him on a city-issued computer he had access to. The former bodyguard also said he never received a directive to preserve e-mails related to this case.

11:16 a.m.

Loronzo Jones, a former member of Kilpatrick’s executive protection unit, testified that he never attended the funeral of slain stripper Tamara Greene. His testimony conflicts with an affidavit provided by a Detroit police sergeant which said Jones was seen, on videotape, attending the funeral.

Jones also testified that he did not know Greene, and on the rare occasions—when he used his city-issued computer located inside the Coleman Young Municipal Building—he did not reference Greene or the investigation into her murder.

Jones’ testimony lasted less than ten minutes. He just left the witness stand.

11:02 a.m.

After one hour and forty-five minutes of testimony, former Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings has now left the witness stand inside Magistrate Steven Whalen’s courtroom. Whalen is currently holding a discussion with attorneys representing Kilpatrick, the city of Detroit, and Bully-Cummings.

When they’re finished, we expect that either former mayoral bodyguard Loronzo Jones or Mike Martin will be next to testify.

10:54 a.m.

Between the September 2002 and June 2003, former police chief Ella Bully-Cummings testified that she does not recall receiving or sending any e-mails concerning the Tamara Greene homicide investigation.
The date range represents the suspected date of the rumored Manoogian mansion party and the murder of Tamara Greene.

Bully-Cummings said she never intentionally destroyed e-mails related to Greene or the investigation into her death. She said that in the few e-mails she exchanged with Kwame Kilpatrick and his then-Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, Greene and her murder investigation never came up.

As for any e-mail exchanges between Bully-Cummings and former mayoral bodyguards Loronzo Jones and Mike Martin—set to testify later today—the former chief said she did not recall corresponding with either of the two via e-mail.


While no e-mails from Bully-Cummings have been produced in response to attorney Norman Yatooma’s requests, we have now learned the names of some of the former chief’s e-mail subfolders.

Today in open court, Yatooma disclosed that Bully-Cummings had at least three subfolders where she stored e-mails by category: “Lawsuits,” “Flagg v. City of Detroit,” a reference to the lawsuit filed by the slain stripper’s family, and “Mayor KMK,” referencing the former mayor.

Earlier this year, Yatooma asked that city lawyers be sanctioned for failing to supply e-mails, saying their conduct was “misleading and obstructionist.”

City attorneys have said no e-mails were intentionally destroyed.

10:24 a.m.

There’s no computer shortage in the city of Detroit.

Bully-Cummings just testified that, while chief, she was provided with three computers: two laptops and a desktop computer.

On Monday, former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick testified that he, too, was provided with three city-issued computers. And if it were up to

Norman Yatooma, he’d have access to all six of them. Right now, Yatooma is questioning the former chief about various e-mail accounts she used.

10:15 a.m.

Bully-Cummings testified that she did not delete e-mails stored in her city-issued e-mail account.

“I didn’t have time to keep going backwards like that,” she said.

“I’m not very savvy when it comes to technology.”

Bully-Cummings said she didn’t have any reason, nor time, to destroy e-mails she had sent or received.

9:55 a.m.

The temperature has risen a few degrees inside Magistrate Stephen Whalen’s courtroom. Attorneys Norman Yatooma, representing the Greene family, and Jim Thomas, who represents former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, have interrupted one another several times within the last few minutes.

The controversy stems from Yatooma trying to determine whether or not former police chief Ella Bully-Cummings recalled receiving a court order to preserve evidence related to the Greene family lawsuit.

“Ask the question,” Whalen barked at Yatooma, trying to settle the skirmish.

When the dust settled, Bully-Cummings reviewed the order and concluded she had not read it before.

The former police chief, who several have commented looks refreshed now in retirement, has appeared mostly calm throughout Yatooma’s questions.

9:24 a.m.

We’re just over ten minutes into Bully-Cummings’ testimony, but a familiar theme has already emerged. The former chief has used the phrase “I don’t recall” twelve times in response to Greene family lawyer Norman Yatooma’s questions regarding e-mail retention within the Detroit Police Department.

So far, Bully-Cummings has acknowledged that the department had a retention policy, but she’s foggy on the specifics. Yatooma is likely to argue that the former chief should have made efforts to retain e-mails from around the time of the investigation into the alleged Manoogian Mansion party, as he did on Monday when testimony began.

9:20 a.m.

And we’re underway, with former Detroit Police Chief Ella Bully-Cummings taking the witness stand. She’s the fourth person to testify in an evidenciary hearing, which began Monday as part of a lawsuit filed by the family of slain stripper Tamara Greene. The family alleges that the Detroit Police Department investigation into her death was quashed by city leaders.

Below is the story and blog from Monday’s hearing where Kwame Kilpatrick testified:

Over a two and a half hour period Monday former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick testified about what he knew about emails relating to the investigation into the murder of Tamara Greene.

He was brought into court by corrections officials from the prison in Milan where he is being held while he awaits trial on federal corruption charges.

Kilpatrick and the attorney for the Greene family, Norman Yatooma, clashed during questioning. During direct examination Kilpatrick acknowledged getting two desktop computers and a laptop computer, contradicting statements he made in an affidavit last year in which he stated that he only used one.

Yatooma quizzed Kilpatrick about why he hadn’t disclosed the additional two computers in his affidavit.

“I don’t know,” Kilpatrick responded.

He later said he thought Yatooma’s inquiry was only interested in e-mails generated from his office desktop computer, and not the computer located at the mayoral residence or the laptop which he did not use.

“Unfortunately, I’m not a computer guy, so I rarely did any work (on the computer),” said Kilpatrick.

Yatooma and Kilpatrick exchanged a few more volleys about the computers, until Judge Whalen asked Yatooma to stop “beating a dead horse.”

“The horse is dead,” Yatooma said.

During later testimony Kilpatrick said he did not recall if he saved any e-mails or created any folders to organize them while mayor.

The former mayor testified that he generally either replied to e-mails or closed them without responding. He acknowledged that some were deleted, but did not believe that applied to many.

According to Yatooma, that also contradicts the affidavit from last year in which Kilpatrick said he “deleted most” of the emails he received. In response, Kilpatrick said he misspoke saying he usually deleted his city emails, but not his personal emails.

Producer Ross Jones provided live updates from Federal Court in Detroit where Kwame Kilpatrick testified about the Tamara Greene case.

Read the complete blog of the proceedings below.

4:04 p.m.

John Johnson testified that it was not his responsibility to preserve evidence, such as e-mails, referenced in a court order issued by a federal judge. Johnson said it was the responsibility of lower-level city lawyers.

And with that, today’s hearing has come to an end. Testimony will resume on Wednesday at 9 AM, with former police chief Ella Bully-Cummings, and former body guards Loronzo Jones and Mike Martin in line next.

3:19 p.m.

Ruth Carter left the witness stand at 3:15 p.m. John Johnson, who replaced Carter as corporation counsel, is now testifying.

2:59 p.m.

Ruth Carter testified that, while corporation counsel, she was not aware of any city policy that would notify defendants of a lawsuit to preserve evidence.

Attorney Norman Yatooma said he had no further questions for Carter just before 3 PM. She is currently being questioned by an attorney for the city.

Carter also said she did not send or receive any e-mails regarding Tamara Greene or the homicide investigation into her death from September 2002 to June 2003.

2:33 p.m.

The city’s former corporation counsel Ruth Carter, now a 36th District Court Judge, says she seldom used her city e-mail, and when she did, she rarely corresponded with Kwame Kilpatrick and Christine Beatty.

Carter is the second person to testify today. Others scheduled to appear before the court are former corporation counsel John Johnson, former mayoral body guards Loronzo Jones and Mike Martin, and former police chief Ella Bully-Cummings.

2:06 p.m.

It should come as no surprise that, while mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick’s primary means of electronic communication was his text pager.

“I didn’t do e-mails, if you want to get to me, you have to get to me through the text pager,” he said.

The former mayor, who resigned from office after the Detroit Free Press obtained the mayor’s text messages which showed he perjured himself, said he would go days without using his e-mail.

1:57 p.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick testified that he never sent or received e-mails that referred to slain stripper Tamara Greene, perhaps the biggest revelation to come from the former mayor’s two-plus hours of testimony.

He also said he never intentionally deleted e-mails between September 2002 and June 2003. The date range represents the time between the rumored party at the Manoogian Mansion and Greene’s death.

With that, Schapka left the podium and Norman Yatooma is now cross-examining the former mayor. Not long after Yatooma resumed questioning, Kilpatrick took a shot at the Birmingham attorney for his handling of the Greene lawsuit, which was filed in 2005.

“You’ve done a good job stretching it out this long,” Kilpatrick said.

1:48 p.m.

Norman Yatooma has said he has no further questions for Kwame Kilpatrick. City attorney John Schapka is now questioning Kilpatrick.

1:43 p.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick testified that preserving e-mails was not his responsibility, but rather that of the city’s law department, who he believes complied with the court’s order to preserve evidence.

Kilpatrick insisted that deleting an e-mail was not the same as erasing them from the city’s server.

“It’s pretty common knowledge that it’s somewhere,” Kilpatrick said.

“I don’t believe I was violating any federal court order by pushing delete,” said Kilpatrick.

1:37 p.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick said he was not aware of an order to preserve evidence issued by a federal judge in the current lawsuit filed by the family of slain stripper Tamara Greene.

“I don’t recall being notified by that, no,” Kilpatrick said. “I don’t recall about preservation of evidence.”

Earlier this morning, Kilpatrick said he was confident he had complied with the order, but conceded he had not learned of it until today.

Yatooma asked Kilpatrick, for the second time today how that was possible if he’d not been aware the order even existed. Kilpatrick said he trusts that his lawyers followed the order.

1:21 p.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick said he does not believe that all emails sent on his city-issued computer are public records.

“I know that communications between husband and wife on that computer would not be public record, I know that health information would not be public record,” he said.

Attorney Norman Yatooma read Kilpatrick a portion of the city’s information technology policy from years ago, which indicated that emails are “almost always” a matter of public record. Kilpatrick said he was not aware of the policy, but emphasized that it does not speak to all emails.

11:55 a.m.

Heads are spinning in Judge Whalen’s courtroom.

Kwame Kilpatrick said he was not aware that a preservation order from the court—to not delete evidence related to this court case—applied to him, but now that he knows it does, he insists that he complied with the order.

Yatooma had fun with the former mayor, asking him how he could know that he historically complied with the order if he didn’t know the order applied to him.

Confused? So are the reporters listening to the testimony. We’ll see where this goes.

11:47 a.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick has been testifying for an hour and fifteen minutes and, so far, he’s kept his composure, speaking in a calm and even tone.

Moments ago, Kilpatrick acknowledged that when an employee separated from the city—especially high-level employees— their computer files were backed-up by the city.

He said that should have applied to his former Chief of Staff Christine Beatty, who resigned in February 2008, but says he does not know if her files were ultimately saved.

Yatooma is trying to make the point that Beatty’s e-mails, as well as those beloning to former law department head Ruth Carter, should have been retained by the city after they resigned their positions.

11:34 a.m.

If you just walked into the court, you’d never know Kwame Kilpatrick was testifying. The former mayor hasn’t spoken a word in 15 minutes. All the discussion and debate so far, has taken place between Judge Whalen and Norman Yatooma over legal wrangling.

We’re expecting that to change soon, as Yatooma seems resigned to the fact that the judge isn’t accepting his arguments.

11:33 a.m.

Give Norman Yatooma pointes for persistence.

After being directed to avoid questions about evidence related to Gary Brown’s 2003 lawsuit against Kwame Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit, Yatooma again went back to the well. Before he could finish his question, Whalen cut off Yatooma, saying he was trying to testify through his questions.

“I don’t want speeches,” said Whalen.

“Stay away from Gary Brown.”

11:31 a.m.

Norman Yatooma is arguing that Kwame Kilpatrick and the city of Detroit were on notice to save emails starting on May 19, 2003—when former deputy police chief Gary Brown made public his intention to sue Kilpatrick and the city over his termination— after he investigated allegations of a party at the Manoogian Mansion.

But Judge Whalen would have no part in, saying that Yatooma’s argument was irrelevant.

Yatooma continued to argue otherwise, but Whalen was unsympathetic.

“Do you get the sense you’re losing this argument,” said the judge.

Minutes later, Yatooma finally relented.

11:20 a.m.

Kwame Kilpatrick testified that he does not believe his city e-mails were deleted between the time he announced his resignation, and when he actually left office in September 2008.

Kilpatrick said he was not aware as to whether or not the city had a policy for document retention.

11:02 a.m.

Norman Yatooma is pointing out what appears to be an inconsistency between Kilpatrick’s affidavit and his testimony today.

According to the affidavit that Yatooma read from, Kilpatrick said he “deleted most” of the e-mails he received. But earlier today, Kilpatrick said he did not delete many e-mails.

Kilpatrick said he misspoke, saying that he was referring to his personal e-mails that he usually did not delete, but that he usually deleted his city e-mails.

10:56 a.m.

Kilpatrick said he did not recall if he saved any e-mails or created any folders to organize them while mayor.

The former mayor testified that he generally either replied to e-mails or closed them without responding. He acknowledged that some were deleted, but did not believe that applied to many.

10:53 a.m.

Kilpatrick disclosed that was a personal e-mail address he used.

Yatooma also asked about three other e-mail accounts that were used by Kilpatrick personally. One of them, (a possible reference to Florida A & M University, where Kilpatrick attended college, and 1970, the year of his birth). Kilpatrick denied using the e-mail address, but said this it was his wife’s account.

The former mayor reasserted what he said in an earlier affidavit: that he left his city-issued computer for Ken Cockrel to use when he took over as mayor in 2008.

10:42 a.m.

It didn’t take long for Kilpatrick and Yatooma to tussle: in the first five minutes of Kilpatrick testimony, the two have gone back and forth over the number of city-issued computers Kilpatrick had while acting as mayor.

Kilpatrick acknowledged that he received two desktop computers and a laptop computer, but he only referenced one desktop computer in an affidavit he provided to the court last year. One of the desktop computers was used at his office, while the other was kept at the Manoogian Mansion. The laptop was never used, Kilpatrick said.

Yatooma quizzed Kilpatrick about why he hadn’t disclosed the additional two computers in his affidavit.

“I don’t know,” Kilpatrick responded.

He later said he thought Yatooma’s inquiry was only interested in e-mails generated from his office desktop computer, and not the computer located at the mayoral residence or the laptop which he did not use.

“Unfortunately, I’m not a computer guy, so I rarely did any work (on the computer),” said Kilpatrick.

Yatooma and Kilpatrick exchanged a few more volleys about the computers, until Judge Whalen asked Yatooma to stop “beating a dead horse.”

“The horse is dead,” Yatooma said.

Testimony continues…

10:30 a.m.

Wearing a white dress shirt, tie and dark pants, Kwame Kilpatrick swore to tell the truth in this morning’s evidenciary hearing. He’s sporting a shaggy beard and is currently seated in the witness box to the right of attorney Norman Yatooma, who will be questioning him.

10:27 a.m.

Judge Stephen Whalen has rejected an argument by Yatooma that city attorney John Schapka provided misleading testimony about retrieving city e-mails.

Whalen said that Schapka’s contention that it would take hundreds of years to search the city’s e-mail system for e-mails from Kilpatrick and others is accurate.

“I see no inconsistency whatsoever,” he said.

With that, Kilpatrick will be the first witness in today’s all-star lineup of city power brokers, past and present. Also expected to testify today are former law department heads John Johnson and Ruth Carter—now a 36th District Judge—former mayoral body guards Loronzo Jones and Mike Martin, and former police chief Ella Bully Cummings.

10:18 a.m.

Just after 10:14 this morning, Kwame Kilpatrick entered Judge Whalen’s courtroom—some 45 minutes after this morning’s hearing was set to begin.

We cannot see Kilpatrick from the closed-circuit television feed reporters are watching from a secluded media room, but it’s a safe bet that he’s wearing a suit rather than prison garb. That’s been standard operating procedure for Kilpatrick’s many court appearances since he was sent to federal prison last year.

10:05 a.m.

Attorney Norman Yatooma is blasting city attorney John Schapka. Yatooma is saying Schapka provided false information in previous testimony when by saying that the city could not search for archived e-mails by name and that older city computers were destroyed when—according to Yatooma—they were not.

Yatooma says that evidence produced by Schapka does not contain the relevant e-mails from Kwame Kilpatrick, Christine Beatty and others that he is seeking.

9:55 a.m.

This morning’s hearing has begun but it’s missing its star witness: Kwame Kilpatrick.

Just after 9:52 a.m., Judge R. Stephen Whalen entered his courtroom. It was then that Kilpatrick’s attorney, James Thomas, disclosed that his client was not yet present.

Attorney Norman Yatooma is currently making an opening statement to the Judge.

9:49 a.m.

Attorneys for Kwame Kilpatrick, the City of Detroit and others are meeting in court chambers now with Judge R. Stephen Whalen about the hearing that is already fifteen minutes behind schedule.

Attorney Norman Yatooma, who represents the family of slain exotic dancer Tamara Greene, has already been directed to keep his questioning focused on the issue of Kilpatrick’s e-mails. It is possible that Judge Whalen is using this time to reiterate that stance.

We’re not sure yet if former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is inside the building.

9:17 a.m.

Former mayoral body guards Mike Martin and Loronzo Jones entered Federal Court in Downtown Detroit shortly after 8:30 this morning. The two are expected to testify as part of an evidenciary hearing regarding missing e-mails belonging to their former boss, Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick has not yet been seen inside court, but his attorney Jim Thomas was spotted milling about the lobby at around 8:45.

The hearing is set to begin at 9:30am.’dska

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