CINCINNATI - Ray Tensing could testify in his murder trial as soon as Tuesday to try to make his claim that he feared for his life and that his shooting of Sam DuBose was justified.
The moment of truth can't come soon enough for DuBose's family members.
DuBose's sister says she just wants to look into Tensing’s eyes when he takes the witness stand.
"You’ve got to understand - he’s saying my brother was trying to kill him," Terina Allen said. "I’ve been fighting for my brother’s reputation ever since this happened. I can’t wait to see Tensing on that stand."
A possible surprise coming from the defense: We're hearing that the video analyst on their witness list, Ed Premu, may not be called.
At some point, the jury will hear from former University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono, who gave a videotaped deposition in the case last July before leaving for his new job at the University of British Columbia.
Others remaining on the defense witness list include:
> James Scanlon, retired Columbus Police Department use of force expert;
> Capt. Dudley Smith, University of Cincinnati Police Department;
> Sgt. Eric Weible, UC PD
> Lt. Gutteriez, UC PD
Tensing's defense team began laying its groundwork Monday as the prosecution rested its case. The defense admits that the then University of Cincinnati police officer intentionally fired the shot that killed DuBose after a traffic stop in Mount Auburn in 2015.
Hamilton County Deputy Coroner Dr. Karen Looman testified Monday it was instantly fatal. She said the single bullet fired into the left side of DuBose's head severed his brain stem and that stopped his heart and breathing.
The defense began its case with testimony from fellow UC police officers who rushed to Rice Street that July 19 evening.
"Were you able to observe his demeanor?" defense attorney Stew Mathews asked Officer Derrick Noland.
Officer: "I was."
Attorney: "What did you notice?:
Officer: "He appeared very white — almost just shocked. I’ve never seen him like that."
Attorney: "Did he appear mad or upset?"
Attorney: "Or angry?"
Officer: "No, he did not."
Tensing’s defense has always been that he shot DuBose after DuBose “mashed” the accelerator and Tensing was dragged by his car. The prosecution disputed that claim with testimony from an impressive array of experts, including a forensic video analyst, the deputy coroner who performed the autopsy and a forensics expert from the coroner's crime lab, as well as Cincinnati PD crime scene investigators and two University of Cincinnati officers who were first to arrive at the scene to back up Tensing at the traffic stop just before the shot was fired.
In its first 30 minutes of defense testimony, Mathews laid his groundwork by calling officers who arrived at the scene shortly afterward and testified to Tensing's demeanor.
Mathews asked UC officer Jeffrey Van Pelt what he observed about Tensing's reaction.
"He looked scared to death, and to me he appeared white as a ghost. I’ve never seen him like that," Van Pelt said.
"He was like looking at his arm and had pulled his pants leg up and was looking at his knee," Cincinnati police Sgt. Nathan Asbury said.
Tensing was calm and never appeared mad, Asbury said.
Defense witnesses also testified about dirt and scuff marks on Tensing’s uniform, but at the end of the day DuBose's family members weren't buying any of it.
"They proved nothing. I thought it was pointless," said DaShonda Reid, DuBose's fiancee. "He had killed Sam - shot him the head - and he started putting on his act."
For more Tensing trial coverage, go to wcpo.com/TensingTrial