NM vs. WAYNE BENT / December 8, 2008
KOB-TV Investigative Reporter Jeremy Jojola is providing Beyond90Seconds.com with updates from inside the Taos courtroom where the Wayne Bent trial is beginning today. As I receive Jojola’s e-mails, I’ll copy and paste them below. I’ll also include the time the e-mails were sent, and will use Mountain Standard Time so that it matches the local time in Taos.
It’s about 9:40 NM time. Got here about 15 minutes ago. Courthouse is packed with jury selection. Bent is here along with his (son) Jeff. I haven’t seen any other of his followers here, although I was told they’re around the courthouse somewhere. I can only see the back of Bent’s head from the courtroom door. I can’t gauge his health at this point although someone told me he looks pretty healthy. They’re not allowing media access during jury selection, which you know, is pretty standard.
I was also told jury selection should be over with by noon. Then there will be a lunch break and then opening statements.
(As it’s a bit slow during jury selection, I asked Jojola what the weather is like in Taos today. He and KOB-TV Chief Photographer Bazz McClain made the drive to Taos from Albuquerque early this morning.)
Taos is cloudy today about 40 degrees with no wind. A little bit gloomy but the sky can be seen towards the west. Bazz was telling me there may be snow tonight…..I hope the station wont send us off to do some live shot in the snow…you know how it is!!!!
(Originally posted at about 11:10am on twitter)
In the Taos courthouse lobby with other media. Jury selection pool is dwindling down a bit.
(As we wait to hear from Jeremy Jojola again, I thought I’d share a brief video about Bent’s trial posted on kob.com earlier today.)
Jury in Bent trial expected to be selected soon, after lunch hour. Judge to rule on media laptops in courtroom. Fingers crossed.
(Jeremy Jojola’s report from Taos for KOB’s noon newscast will appear here shortly.)
It’s about 1:38. I have to write this and all future updates outside the courthouse lobby because the judge is not allowing laptops in the courtroom. This is an obstacle, because laptops have replaced pen and paper in this day of electronic news gathering. I don’t mind old-school note taking though.
Bent’s female followers are sitting in a row with worried looks on their faces. They’re all dressed similarly as you’ve seen them on video. They’re all wearing long dresses, long sleeves. They’re all wearing their hair down. They’re sitting quietly, and obviously nervous–a quiet desperation I would say.
I saw Wayne Bent face to face as he stepped through the metal detector. He looks healthy and slim. I’ll give you an update right after opening statements.
Hopefully I’ll be able to make my way from the courtroom to the lobby often, without making too much noise, so I can give you updates.
(Due to the judge’s decision, this post’s original headline, “Updates from inside Wayne Bent courtroom“, has been changed.)
(Roughly 30-minutes ago, Jeremy Jojola also posted the following update on Twitter. Note that a jury was selected this morning and opening arguments appear to be getting underway right now.)
Bent trial begins at 2:00 pm. Bent’s female followers sitting in a row in court with worried faces. Judge says no laptops in courtroom.
(This just in…)
(About 15-minutes ago, Jojola posted the following on Twitter.)
Jury has walked in courtroom. Bent trial now begins
We just took a recess in court. Opening arguments were interesting and brief. Prosecutor Tomas Benavidez said during his opening statement Wayne Bent “betrayed trust” and “abused his authority” by touching and kissing the young girls on the breasts. Bent’s defense attorney Sarah Montoya said during her opening statements Bent did touch the girls on the chest area, but never touched the girls on “intimate” areas and called the touching a “spritual healing ritual.” Montoya held up a Barbie doll to the jury to illustrate where she says Bent touched the girls.
The two girls are expected to testify. Bent is also expected to testify.
Heading back in…..I’ll give you an update again soon.
First day of the trial ended at around 4:30 New Mexico time. Depending on the weather, court will resume again tomorrow morning at nine.
Today a state police officer revealed during his testimony that Wayne Bent admitted the girls did climb into bed naked with him. I’m working on my 6pm/6:30 pieces now. I’ll give you more detailed stuff after that.
Here are some direct quotes taken from courtroom:
“Basically a religious leader in a community betrayed trust and abused his authority.”
-Tomas Benavidez, Prosecutor saying that Bent inappropriately touched two teenage followers.
“He kisses everybody in his church. He is a very kind, he is a very gentle man. He is not a criminal.”
-Sarah Montoya, Defense Attorney saying Bent’s encounters with the girls were religious rituals intended to heal the soul
Day 1: Updates on Wayne Bent case from Taos courthouse
Day 2: Reporter’s updates from Wayne Bent trial
Day 3: Reporter’s updates from Wayne Bent trial
Day 4: Reporter’s updates from Wayne Bent trial
Day 5: Reporter’s updates from Wayne Bent trial