Kathy Nealy looms over John Wiley Price trial

Opening statements are set for Monday in the John Wiley Price corruption trial and the person the government would like to be its star witness won't be in the courtroom.

Nealy was separated from the Price trial by Federal Judge Barbara Lynn because of questions about whether she is covered against the charges due to immunity given in a 2009 corruption case.

Nealy was mentioned more than Price in the indictment charging Price, Daphney Fain and Nealy with public corruption. That indictment was read in court on Thursday.

“Kathy Nealy will have a very real presence in that courtroom by the fact that she is not in that courtroom,” said Matthew Orwig, a former U.S. Attorney.

Orwig said the government will try to bring evidence about Nealy's role in the alleged scheme -- that the defense will object to -- because Nealy won’t be testifying under oath.

“Nealy not being there changes the trial strategy for both sides and it’s going to raise some evidentiary issues that the judge will have to rule on,” Orwig said.

The fight over evidence related to Nealy isn’t the only reason Orwig feels this will be a difficult case for the government.

“There’s not a videotape, there’s not an audiotape that we know of, so I think that it will be different than a lot of public corruption cases in that there won’t be smoking guns and evidence that is totally overwhelming,” Orwig said.

Some of what the government wants to say about Nealy and Price will be allowed - even though it’s hearsay evidence without her testimony. Judge Lynn will have to decide what can and can't be considered.

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