Day 2 of ballot fraud trial starts Tuesday morning - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Day 2 of ballot fraud trial starts Tuesday morning

Posted:
Owen "Butch" Morgan/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department Owen "Butch" Morgan/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Department
Dustin Blythe/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept. Dustin Blythe/Courtesy: St. Joseph County Sheriff's Dept.

It's day 2 of the trial for the former chairman of the Saint Joseph County Democratic Party.  Day 1 included jury selection

Butch Morgan and 3 other voter registration employees are accused of forging signatures on election petitions in 2008. Last week one of the co-defendants, Pam Brunette, pled guilty to 3 of the 6 counts against her.

They were reportedly trying to get Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton on the Indiana Primary ballot.  They're being charged with 14 counts of forgery.

Tuesday began with opening arguments. The prosecution argues that Butch Morgan told voter registration workers "don't worry about it" when he said to copy signatures onto election petitions in 2008. The prosecution says the jury will hear from Lucas Burkett, Pamela Brunette, and Beverly Shelton who will testify that Morgan had encouraged them to forge the signatures. They will also call a handwriting examiner to the stand who looked at all the signed petitions.

The defense questions the motives of the three witnesses who worked in the voter registration office. Burkett for one, hasn't been charged with anything even though he admits to forging signatures. They say the handwriting examiner will not be able to confidently say Dustin Blythe forged any of the signatures and Morgan-as the County Chairman-had very little to do with the day-to-day activities of the voter registration office.

The state called witness Lucas Burkett to the stand first. Burkett worked as the 2nd deputy at the voter registration office in 2008. He says Morgan instructed him, Brunette, Shelton, and Blythe to forge ballot petitions for presidential candidates. Burkett says all agreed to do so. Burkett testified Tuesday that he began feeling guilty and decided to get the signatures legitimately. It wasn't until two years later that he told someone what happened. Even then he first went to the press to tell the story, not authorities.

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