Expert: Kilpatrick trial teams likely to ask for mistrial after Mercado plea

Former Detroit Water boss Victor Mercado’s expected guilty plea today could send a message to jurors that Kwame Kilpatrick, his father and contractor Bobby Ferguson are guilty, a legal expert told The Detroit News.

And the plea to a five-year conspiracy charge could prompt defense lawyers for the former Detroit mayor, father Bernard Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson to request a mistrial, said former federal prosecutor and Wayne State University law professor Peter Henning.

Guilty pleas during a trial are unusual and need to be explained carefully to jurors.

“The defense is going to go ballistic,” Henning said. “They will be concerned about prejudice and that the jury will think they are all guilty because one pleaded guilty.”

Henning doesn’t expect Mercado will testify against Kilpatrick and the other two defendants. Not after his lawyer, Martin Crandall, professed his client’s innocence during opening statements.

“That sends a message to the jury that he’s talking out of both sides of his mouth,” Henning said.

Robert Snell
Robert Snell is the Detroit News federal courts reporter. He can be reached at rsnell@detnews.com or (313) 222-2028.