July 13, 2006 at 8:16 PM EST - Updated July 27 at 2:40 AM
He's seen all the evidence and heard from all the witnesses, now Judge Norbert Nadel will decide Howard Beatty's fate. Beatty is accused of shooting activist Kabaka Oba back in April.
After four days of testimony both sides gave closing arguments Thursday morning.
Judge Norbert Nadel says it's clear that Howard Beatty shot Kabaka Oba and that there was bad blood between the two men. Now, Nadel has to decide if Beatty planned the murder or if he acted in a sudden fit of rage when he shot Oba outside of city hall.
The prosecution wants the judge to decide the murder was a pre-meditated ambush that took Howard Beatty only 10 seconds. "In that period of time he is able to put the car in park, open the door and get out with this gun, walk over to that car, fire six shots..." recalls prosecutor Mark Piepmeier. Prosecutors say calculated actions would make what Howard Beatty did, murder. "We're seeing a dramatic rise in homicides due in part to people like Howard Beatty taking the law into their own hands and deciding to solve their problems on the streets with guns."
Defense attorney Ken Lawson worked to prove to Judge Nadel that Howard Beatty snapped, that he had had enough and acted in a sudden fit of passion and rage which changes the charge to voluntary manslaughter. "What else could he be doing but acting in a sudden fit of passion and rage in broad daylight?" questioned Lawson.
Lawson agrees that Beatty was not right in taking the law into his own hands but he hopes Judge Nadel understands why he did. After years of threats from Kabaka Oba, Lawson says Beatty couldn't take it anymore. "No one's advocating street justice but the man got what he asked for." Lawson told the Judge.
Now, two families will wait in hopes the scales tip in their favor. "I have no doubt that that judge is gonna do the right thing." says Ted Bailey, brother of Kabaka Oba.
"Personally I would like the judge to say that my brother's not guilty because he was provoked." says George Beatty, Howard's brother.
Judge Nadel is expected to rule in two weeks.
An aggravated murder charge is punishable by a maximum of life in prison without parole. Voluntary manslaughter is a first degree felony punishable by a maximum of ten years in prison.