Closing arguments made; jury begins deliberation

Richie Lecker
Staff Writer

As closing arguments have been made, the jury has begun its deliberation in the trial of Francis Anthony "Tony" Milliard; it will now be up to 12 Elk County residents to determine if Francis Milliard was behind the June 23, 2011 brutal assault of Todd Asti.
Over the three days of testimony, 18 witnesses were called to the stand by the commonwealth, with just Francis Milliard testifying on behalf of the defense.
Both the prosecution and the defense, led by Elk County District Attorney and attorney Jeffrey DuBois respectively, were able to sum up their views of the evidence in their respective closing arguments.
DuBois was afforded the first opportunity to make a closing argument before the jury.
DuBois argued that the case was riddled with doubt, highlighting the fact that the incident occurred four and a half years ago.
"You don't just have reasonable doubt, you have doubt all over the place," DuBois stated to the jury.
He pointed to many inconsistencies in the testimony presented by the commonwealth's two key witnesses, Anthony Milliard and Todd Asti.
DuBois argued that Asti didn't initially identify Francis Milliard as his assailant, instead saying that Francis Milliard was the only possible suspect that came to mind, and further argued that Asti's story started to become influenced by the presence of Anthony Milliard's statements.
DuBois argued that Anthony Milliard's statements were also all over the place and that they were not free and voluntary statements, which Anthony Milliard testified to on Wednesday.
"You don't just have reasonable doubt, you have unanswered questions here, here and here," DuBois said. "You have doubt all over the place.
"What we submit is that Francis Milliard had absolutely nothing to do with this assault," DuBois added.
McMahon countered that Anthony Milliard's statements were freely given, citing the recorded audio in which he was directly asked if his statements were voluntary.
McMahon's closing argument relied upon validating the testimony of Asti and Anthony Milliard, confident that the commonwealth had met its burden of proof.
"I would submit to you that the commonwealth has met its burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Milliard is guilty on all charges," McMahon stated.
McMahon gave his account of what he felt happened, saying that the assault of Todd Asti began upstairs and moved downstairs, all while Asti had been cognizant and aware of the entire event, stumbling through his home.
McMahon argued that there were eerie similarities between Asti's statements and Anthony Milliard's statements, suggesting that both were true and that Anthony Milliard offered no explanation for recanting his previous statements during his testimony on Wednesday.
"There is sufficient evidence for you to find Francis Milliard guilty of all charges on the verdict slip," McMahon said.
The issue of evidence was disputed between the prosecution and the defense.
The defense states that there was no physical evidence connecting Francis Milliard to the scene, but McMahon pointed to Asti as his physical evidence.
At approximately 11 a.m., the 12 jury members entered deliberations.
The jury members will bear the burden of determining the validity of the testimony of Asti and Anthony Milliard and ultimately deciding if the commonwealth had met its burden of proof in proving that Francis Milliard had assaulted Todd Asti.