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Defense rests case in Keetley murder trial; state requests for a rebuttal

Michael Keetley, a former ice cream truck vendor, is standing trial on two charges of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.

TAMPA, Fla. — After hearing from an eyewitness identification expert, and his hand surgeon, Michael Keetley’s defense team rested its case. The jury will likely hear closing arguments on Thursday.

Keetley, a former ice cream truck vendor, is standing trial on two charges of first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.

After being robbed and shot on Jan.23, 2010, investigators say Keetley sought revenge on the people who he thought were responsible for the crime.

Ten months later, on Thanksgiving Day, detectives say Keetley shot six people he believed were responsible for robbing and shooting him.

Sergio Gultron and Juan Gultron died from gunshot wounds, and four men survived their injuries.

Today, Keetley’s lawyers made one last attempt to prove to the court their client was not physically capable of operating a firearm because of the injuries he suffered from being robbed and shot.

RELATED: He was shot, then detectives say he became a vigilante

To help explain their logic, the defense called Dr. David Halpern to the stand. Halpern is the hand and plastic surgeon who conducted several surgeries on Keetley’s hands.

In Keetley’s discharge notes, it stated that he visited Halpern at least 50 times, beginning Jan. 24, 2010 until August 2010.

Halpern said Keetley had “complete motor and radial nerve palsy” in his right hand, which is his dominant hand. He experienced numbness in his right hand and couldn’t do simple tasks on his own, like tying his own shoes.

With Keetley now having to use his left hand more, it started to become strong enough to do more things. When the defense asked Halpern, “Would he be able to use a gun with his left hand only?” the doctor said, “I think so, yes.”

Even after multiple surgeries and physical therapy visits, Halpern testified that Keetley wouldn’t have been able to extend his wrist, fingers or thumb on his right hand.

The defense also called Dr. Jennifer Dysart to testify as an expert in eyewitness identification.

Dysart explained to the jury that when a weapon is present in a crime, the victims “tend to focus on the weapon rather than the facial features of the perpetrator.”

Throughout the trial, both the defense and prosecutors continuously asked the survivors from the Nov. 25, 2010 shooting how much alcohol and drugs they consumed before the gunman arrived.

During Wednesday's testimony, Dysart explained how a person’s memory could be altered after several drinks mixed with drug use.

Each survivor testified that they either drank beer, used cocaine and/or smoked marijuana before the shooting took place. 

After the defense rested its case late in the afternoon, the prosecution requested a rebuttal. The prosecution asked to present at least four witnesses. And, they want to show the jury two pieces of video of Keetley freely using his right hand.

One video is from 2017, where Keetley is grasping an object with his right hand. The other video is from the trial, where prosecutors say that Keetley is cradling his hand and putting on a show for the jury.

Defense attorney, Lyann Goudie said the videos are irrelevant because the crime Keetley is being accused of took place in 2010 and showing video highlighting the mobility of his right hand in 2017 is irrelevant. 

“My client is not faking,” she told the judge.

Court will resume at 9 a.m. Thurs. Feb. 20, 2020.

RELATED: State rests in murder trial of former Florida ice cream truck driver

RELATED: Florida ice cream man’s handwriting put under the microscope

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