Yesterday, undercover Chicago cop Mehmet Uygun, aka “Mo” or “Turk,” took the stand in the trial against the NATO 3: Brent Betterly, Jared Chase and Brian Jacob Church. “Mo” is expected to be the state’s final witness in the conspiracy and terrorism case. The state began their case with the other undercover cop, Nadia Chikko (aka “Gloves”). Chikko’s testimony was so weak and full of holes that we expected the prosecutors to be desperately trying to salvage their case through Uygun’s testimony. Our predictions proved to be true.
On the stand, Chikko had to be continually admonished not to answer the questions she wanted to answer or jump ahead in the narrative she was trying to tell when it was not relevant to the questions she was asked. Uygun came across as better trained and composed than Chikko for the most part, as he answered most questions succinctly. While his performance under cross-examination is yet to be seen, the defense objected throughout the day to his continual use of “they” to lump all the defendants together rather than saying who he saw do what or heard say what during any specific interaction. For example, Betterly was not part of many of the recorded conversations, yet Uygun consistently referred to the three defendants as if they were all present at all times and all doing and saying the same things. The judge had to instruct him several times to be specific in his testimony since there are three people on trial in this case.
The prosecutor asking Uygun questions on the stand did not help matters, as he consistently misread the transcripts of recorded conversations when asking Uygun for his understanding of what the defendants’ statements meant. The prosecutor also confused the defendants in his questions several times. In another embarrassing blunder, the prosecutors forgot to bring a box of alleged evidence with them to court, causing one of them to have to leave the courtroom to retrieve the box so they could show Uygun a handheld police scanner that was allegedly seized during the apartment raid but has not been proven to belong to any of the defendants.
The prosecutor also repeatedly asked Uygun about what other activists on the recordings or identified in surveillance photos said and did. The defense objected to this repeatedly because the state was trying to present things that other people said and did as evidence against the defendants. The judge had to remind the prosecutor that there are three, and only three, people on trial in this case.
Throughout the questioning today, the prosecutors were clearly trying to patch up Chikko’s weak testimony. At one point during oral arguments before the judge (but outside of the presence of the jury), the prosecutors said Uygun’s testimony was needed because Chikko’s credibility had been challenged. Thus, they went to pains to ask pointed questions of Mo to patch these holes. For example, one recording captured Uygun saying he would bring a “30 pack” to the apartment some of the defendants were staying in and Chikko testified that she did not know what that was referring to, as it could be beer or chewing gum. Uygun testified that he meant beer but never actually brought beer to the defendants.
The prosecutors also had Uygun step down from the stand to handle the novelty knives, swords, and bow and arrow in front of the jury when verifying that they were the ones that Church had shown him. The defense objected to him brandishing these alleged weapons as being prejudicial against the defendants, but the judge permitted him to handle them. The prosecutors also submitted a photo of Uygun’s bulletproof vest because one recording captured Chase saying that arrows could penetrate them. Uygun’s vest included a breast plate to protect against punctures.
These desperate attempts at smearing the NATO 3 as dangerous terrorists are expected to continue on Monday. A few recordings that have not yet been played for the jury are expected to be played then. After the prosecutors are done asking their questions, the defense attorneys will be able to cross-examine the undercover and tear apart his story like they did when Chikko was on the stand. Once the state rests their case, the defendants will be able to present evidence and witnesses to the jury, if they choose to do so as part of their defense.