- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

FORT WORTH, Texas — Both prosecution and defense closed yesterday in the murder trial of Chante Jawan Mallard, the young nurse who impaled a homeless mental patient in her windshield in October 2001, then left him to die in her darkened garage.

After more than two days of testimony, the state rested its case with Gregory Biggs’ 20-year-old son, Brandon, relating years of despair and torment as his father suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and was finally forced to live in a local homeless shelter.

He said he visited his father as often as he could and described the 37-year-old as “friendly, though he didn’t have many friends — and very, very loving.”

The youth’s testimony brought tears to the eyes of jurors, spectators and even the defendant.

Mallard’s defense team refused to cross-examine the youth, then put on a single witness, Bexar County Medical Examiner Vince Di Maio, and rested the defense case.

Mr. Di Maio tried to convince jurors that Mr. Biggs probably was knocked unconscious and would have been unable to communicate with Mallard.

The surprise end of the defense case left onlookers shocked. Rumor was that the defendant might take the stand on her own behalf, but after a brief consultation, she stared straight ahead and her lead lawyer, Jeff Kearney, rested.

Closing arguments are set for this morning. The jury is expected to get the case by midday today.

The prosecution put on additional testimony yesterday that strongly indicated Gregory Biggs, 37, a homeless drifter, lived for a period of time after the accident — enough time, the state’s witnesses agreed, to have been saved from death.

On Tuesday, a Fort Worth fire department rescue specialist said he believed that anybody could have saved Mr. Biggs’ life with just “basic life-support care.”

Yesterday, the Tarrant County medical examiner, Nazim Peerwani, agreed and added his view that the victim could have been conscious for some time.

“Theoretically, he could have survived for hours,” Mr. Peerwani said. “There was no trauma to the skull. There was no injury to the brain.”

The witness was asked if merely driving from the scene and stopping to try to pry him out of the windshield, which Mallard admitted to police, might have made things worse.

“It certainly would have aggravated the condition,” he said. “[The victim] was not anchored well and the motions of the car, the acceleration, the turning around corners and stopping would have shifted the body and caused more injury to his unsupported, nearly amputated, lower extremity and perhaps would increase his vascular trauma and injury.”

The prosecution has maintained that Mallard, by hiding the victim’s body and not calling for medical aid, actually committed murder.

The defense has argued that the auto-pedestrian collision was an accident, and Mallard, 27, was strung out on alcohol, marijuana and Ecstasy and didn’t know what she was doing.

She could receive a life sentence if convicted.

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