The state rested its case against former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Rubashkin shortly before noon this morning.
The jury was sent home until Wednesday morning when the defense will begin with its witnesses. The prosecutors and defense will return this afternoon when the defense likely will ask the jury for a directed verdict of acquittal.
The last prosecution witness, Elmer Lopez Marroquinn, told jurors he told labor investigators he was under age 18 before the May 2008 immigration raid.
Lopez Marroquinn, a Guatemalan resident who started working for Agriprocessors at the age of 16, said a plant human resources employee told him not to reveal his true age before he met with the inspectors.
But Lopez Marroquinn said he told labor inspectors his real name and age during the private interview. He also told investigators there were other minors at the Postville meatpacking plant.
After answering questions, he went back to work and continued his employment at the plant until the immigration agents raided the facility a month later.
Another witness, Luis Nava Gonzales, who was 17 when he started working at Agriprocessors in March 2008, recounted the same meeting with labor inspectors.
But Nava, who spoke without the assistance of an interpreter, said he told inspectors he was old enough to work at the plant.
Under cross-examination, the defense showed him a statement he signed at the conclusion of the labor interview.
The April 2008 document showed that Nava said he was 19 with a date of birth of 1987. That would have made him 21, and Nava picked up on the inaccuracy while he examined it from the stand.
“I probably was confused about how old I was supposed to be,” he said. “They probably thought I was kind of dumb.”
Some of the more confrontational parts of the trial so far came during a heated exchange when defense attorney Montgomery Brown asked Nava about his duties wielding a chain saw on the beef kill floor.
When Brown pressed Nava, asking him if work on the floor stopped when the rabbis went home, Nava appeared to read something more into the question.
Nava said the rabbis were lazy but were good people and ranted briefly, at one point asking Brown “What do you think you are?”
Brown let him continue and asked if there was anything else he wanted to say about his client.
Judge Nathan Callahan put an end to the argument, and Nava calmed down and even gave a friendly fist bump to one of Rubashkin’s relatives as he left the courtroom.
(Source: WCF Courier)