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Defense Rests In Orie Melvin Trial, Closing Arguments Set For Friday

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The defense has rested its case in the trial of suspended State Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin and her sister, Janine Orie.

Both defendants received ashes today, symbolizing Ash Wednesday, before trial.

On this last day of testimony, their expert challenged a report by the prosecution's investigator who said the defendants diverted $33,000 in services owed state taxpayers directing political work in judicial offices.

Their expert said those figures were skewed and flawed.

The defense put on witnesses to establish that judicial work got done, even during years Melvin campaigned for the Supreme Court.

But during the course of the trial, the jury also heard from prosecution witnesses like former law clerk Lisa Sasinoski, now the wife of an Allegheny County Court judge, who confronted Melvin about political work in the judicial office, and then claims she was fired because of it.

Defense attorneys for Justice Melvin would not commit to whether or not she would take the stand until it was announced the defense rested.

Defense attorney Bill Difenderfer, who is not associated with this case, says it can indeed be an 11th hour decision.

"On a case such as this, I'm assuming she was fully prepared to testify and our consideration is if you testify what's your exposure obviously to the cross examination. Now I'm sure these lawyers are extremely prepared and are well aware of what's going to come at her in terms of cross examination," said Difenderfer.

The defendant's sister, Sen. Jane Orie, testified in her own defense on similar charges but was convicted.

The jury gets Thursday off while attorneys debate evidence motions. Closing arguments are scheduled for Friday.

Former Law Clerk Testifies In Orie Melvin Case (2/1/13)
Prosecutors: Taxpayers Cheated Over $30K By Orie Melvin Campaigns (2/7/13)
More Reports on this Trial

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