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Testimony Set to Resume Tuesday in Downtown Boulder Murder Trial

February 19, 2019
Christopher King

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For live coverage of this trial, follow reporter @mitchellbyars on Twitter.

Testimony is set to resume Tuesday in the murder trial of Louis Sebastian, who is accused of fatally shooting a man in a crowded downtown Boulder restaurant in 2017.

Sebastian, 33, is charged with first-degree murder and carrying a concealed weapon without a permit in the shooting death of Christopher King, 49, in May 2017 at Bramble and Hare, 1970 13th St..

After a break in the trial Monday because of the President’ Day holiday, on Tuesday prosecutors are expected to call the last of their witnesses, with Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty telling Boulder District Judge Andrew Hartman he expected to wrap up the prosecution’s case by the end of the day.

Opening arguments pitted the prosecution’s assertion that Sebastian shot and killed an unarmed and injured King against defense attorneys’ claims that the shooting was in self-defense.

The first few days of testimony in the trial, which started Feb. 11, featured primarily first responders, detectives and forensic experts, with witnesses testifying to the injuries both Sebastian and King sustained, as well as evidence tying Sebastian’s gun to the shooting.

The second half of the week featured more eye-witness testimony, including people who were at the May 28, 2017 croquet party where Sebastian and King met as well as diners at the Bramble and Hare who saw the shooting .

People in Sebastian and King’s dining group recalled the two getting into an argument before heading outside, presumably to fight. Other witnesses at the front of the restaurant testified to hearing multiple gunshots before seeing King run into the restaurant and Sebastian follow him in and shoot him again in the chest.

Based on what prosecutors have told Hartman, among those still expected to testify are the two restaurant employees who disarmed Sebastian after he reportedly shot King, as well as the medical examiner who performed the autopsy. Attorneys late Friday went over a batch of autopsy photos that would be introduced with the medical examiner.

Not expected to testify for the prosecution is Leah Akin, a co-host of the party and the woman King and Sebastian might have been fighting over prior to the shooting.

Other witnesses at the party testified to Akin either flirting or kissing both King and Sebastian, while a detective introduced the text Akin sent to King inviting him to the party.

But while Akin’s attempt to quash her subpoena to testify was unsuccessful, according to the Lebanon (Tenn.) Democrat , defense attorneys during objections to some of the evidence said the prosecution did not plan to call Akin to the stand.

While prosecutors have not confirmed Akin would not be testifying, they did not refute the statements, and Hartman noted the absence of her testimony was “a big void for me” as he was considering some evidentiary issues.

Among the issues on which he will have to rule, Hartman in the coming days must consider whether to allow the defense to bring up instances of what they called evidence of King’s violence in past incidents to combat what they said was improper character testimony from prosecution witnesses. While Hartman denied the initial request by defense attorneys during pre-trial motions hearings, Hartman said he would reconsider the ruling if testimony opened the door to it.

“The only impression the jury has is of an energetic, polite, working, traveling, house-residing, researching medical doctor, or at least doctor,” Hartman said in court on Friday. “This is all testimony that implies the ‘normalcy’ of Dr. King.”

Once the prosecution rests its case, the defense will have its turn to call witnesses. In opening arguments, defense attorney Nelissa Milfeld said she would call a medical examiner of her own to talk about Sebastian’s injuries.

Sebastian himself also will have to decide whether he wants to take the stand in his defense or invoke his right not to testify.

Once testimony wraps up, attorneys will get to make final closing statements before the case is handed to the jury. The jury still has two alternates, but did lose one on Friday after he realized he knew one of the witnesses.

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars