A legal observer said testimony in the John Wiley Price trial is likely enough to result in a conviction, but the defense still has major opportunities to get an acquittal.
The trial wrapped up its fourth week with fellow commissioner Mike Cantrell testifying had he thought price was leaking confidential contract information he would have gone to the district attorney.
"It can skew everything and create an un-level playing field,” Cantrell testified. “It discourages people from bidding."
Prosecutors say Price gave longtime friend Kathy Nealy confidential contract information and that he violated a host of county rules meeting with companies trying to win county contracts when he shouldn’t have.
Trial lawyer Victor Vital expects the defense to swing back. A potential response could be, Vital said, “Perhaps I should not have violated county regulations regarding no contact and disclosing confidential information. But I have made it clear over the years I care about this county, I care about the citizens and I want the best contractor to win.”
Vital said the government, so far, has not thrown a knockout punch. He said prosecutors are hitting Price left and right with circumstantial evidence.
“The government’s going to say, ‘I don’t need a wiretap, we don’t need to hear from the horse’s mouth all you need to do is look at all these footprints and all of these footprints lead to a quid pro quo.’ The question is will the jury go for it,” Vital said.
After the fourth week, vital scores the government ahead on points.
“The real question at the end of the day -- did they win enough to get beyond the reasonable doubt. That’s how much they have to be winning, are they winning by that much? Not yet, but they're winning.”