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Ghislaine Maxwell’s attorneys begged the federal judge in her case for more time to track down witnesses to testify in her defense, telling the judge “our client’s life is on the line.”
“I understand your honor runs a tight ship,” defense attorney Laura Menninger told U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan while making the plea, according to The Independent. “We are flying people across the country, across the pond, our client’s life is on the line, and we are given only a half a day to put on a witness.”
Prosecutor Maurene Comey fought back against the defense’s contention that they had been rushed, saying they “strongly disagree with the suggestion.” Comey went on to reference a five-day break in the trial that could have been used to secure the witnesses.
Nathan also appeared unsympathetic to the defense’s plea and refused to grant a delay in the trial.
“I have a rule, you have your next witness or you rest,” she said.
Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie K. Brown tweeted Friday morning that defense attorneys were facing a series of obstacles, including one defense witness who has ignored a federal subpoena to appear the case and another who plans to plead the Fifth Amendment. A third possible witness has COVID-19, Brown wrote.
Defense attorneys had also hoped to call an 81-year-old witness living in the United Kingdom, but he is unable to arrive until Monday. The man is the owner of Nags Head pub, a bar located across from Maxwell’s former London townhouse.
He was expected to challenge the testimony of one of the accusers who testified that she met the British socialite at the townhouse, The Independent reports.
While the defense had once been expected to call 35 witnesses, Maxwell's defense team said late Thursday that they may rest their case as early as Friday, NBC News reports.
Maxwell—who is facing six charges including sex trafficking and conspiracy for allegedly helping Jeffrey Epstein recruit underage girls for sexual abuse—was expected to tell Nathan Friday morning whether she planned to take the stand in her own defense, according to the New York Times.
A spokesperson for the British socialite told The Telegraph this week it’s unlikely defense attorneys will call her to the stand to refute claims made by four different accusers because she is “too fragile” to testify.
Maxwell’s attorneys began to lay out their defense Thursday morning, calling Maxwell’s former assistant Cimberly Espinosa to the stand.
Espinosa had worked as Maxwell’s assistant in New York City from 1996 to 2002 and told the jurors that she had “never” witnessed any abuse during her tenure.
“I highly respected her and looked up to her very much, and I learned a lot from her,” she said, according to NBC News. “I attribute my career to her. She treated me fair, and it was fun. She was demanding, wanted things done fast, like yesterday.
During cross-examination, Espinosa admitted she had never been to Jeffrey Epstein’s home in Palm Beach, the location where some abusers have described the abuse happening, The Times reports.
Elizabeth Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, also took the stand Thursday as an expert witness to testify about false memories.
Loftus—who has also testified in other big-name trials including those of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson and Ted Bundy—testified that suggestion and emotion can influence memory.
“Emotion is no guarantee that you’re dealing with an authentic memory,” she testified, according to The New York Post.
She testified that memory “doesn’t work like a recording device” and that memories can be impacted by questioning from law enforcement, media, suggestions by others, or a person’s own personal beliefs and values, according to media reports.
Loftus never spoke directly about the statements made by the four accusers who took the stand to accuse Maxwell of recruiting and grooming them for abuse, but spoke in general about how malleable memory can be.
During cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Pomerantz focused on Loftus’ track record, saying that out of the 150 trials that Loftus has testified in, only one of those times had been for the prosecution. She also brought up the book Loftus wrote in 1991 called “Witness for the Defense.”
“You haven’t written a book called ‘Impartial Witness,’ right?” Pomerantz asked, according to The Post.
“No,” Loftus responded.
For more on the case, watch Peacock’s “Epstein’s Shadow: Ghislaine Maxwell.”
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