Prosecutors dropped a bombshell before the trial opened, when they told defense attorneys they had unearthed new documents that would support the testimony of a third developer previously unconnected to the corruption case. It wasn't just Lipscomb and another developer, Patrick Turner, who gave gift cards to the mayor, prosecutors said. Glenn Charlow handed over a bunch as well - and the mayor, the prosecutors added, said she wanted them for her church. Dixon's lawyers cried foul, and the judge refused to allow Charlow to testify or be mentioned during the initial phase of the trial. But the judge hasn't decided yet if Charlow can be called as a rebuttal witness.
The mayor's argument
Now we know Dixon's defense: It wasn't theft or confusion that prompted her to use the gift cards in question. For months, Dixon's lawyers hinted that the mayor's defense would be that she inadvertently spent the cards – mixing them up with others meant for her. So it was jolting when Arnold Weiner delivered an opening statement that said something different. There was no confusion, he said, and the mayor wouldn't challenge prosecution claims that she bought an Xbox, Old Navy clothing or a camcorder. She spent the cards readily - because they were meant as gifts for her. Prosecutors will have to convince the jury that they were meant, instead, for charity.
The jury consultant
State prosecutor Robert A. Rohrbaugh - a former federal prosecutor who lives in Montgomery County - had some outside assistance in picking the jury. In an unusual move, he retained a trial consultant, who stood by his side during two days of jury selection. Defense lawyers often rely on outside help in an effort to pick a jury more favorable to the accused; and while it might be a growing trend for prosecutors to use jury consultants, it remains a rare option for the state. Rohrbaugh, with only a few attorneys in his office and a limited budget, wouldn't say how much he was paying Ronald Matlon. But there's little doubt that the composition of the majority-black jury - nine women and three men - is among the most critical elements in the case. One juror, an alternate, threw a scare into the courtroom when he fainted while talking to the judge. He was excused from the trial, leaving five alternates.
Lipscomb will take the stand, likely today or Tuesday. In June 2008, Dixon issued a statement to The Baltimore Sun saying she and Lipscomb had a "personal relationship" in "late 2003 and early 2004." She described the relationship as "brief." But last week, Weiner, a Dixon attorney, said in his opening statement that their personal ties extended from at least 2003 into 2006, when he gave her dozens of gift cards. Her current boyfriend, Edward Anthony, took the stand Friday and said he and the mayor began dating in 2006 and that he has traveled extensively with her, to destinations including Miami, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii and, recently, Las Vegas.