Closing arguments will begin Thursday morning in the trial of a Jonathan J. Behan Jr., who is charged in the June death of Aaron Cotton.
Assistant Scott County Attorney Kimberly Shepherd called 18 witnesses to testify over two full days of testimony before resting her case on Wednesday. Defense attorneys Eric Reyes and Matthew Paulson also rested their case without calling a single witness, including Behan himself.
The burden is on prosecutors so defendants are not required to present any evidence or testify on their own behalf. Jurors are instructed not to consider that when they begin their deliberations.
Behan, 18, is charged with homicide by vehicle and failure to stop at the scene of an accident resulting in death.
Behan's friend, Daniel Garcia, 18, of Davenport, testified this week that he had contacted Cotton on June 23 to buy marijuana and arranged to meet him that night at Wood Intermediate School on North Division Street. After Garcia took possession of the marijuana from Cotton, the truck began to pull away, with Cotton clinging to it, Garcia said.
Cotton eventually fell off of the truck in a residential in the 2100 block of West 58th Street.
Forensic pathologist Marcus Nashelsky, who conducted the autopsy, testified Wednesday that Cotton died from blunt force injuries to the head.
Under questioning from Reyes, Nashelsky said he did not note any broken bones or injuries indicative of a heavy weight, such as a vehicle, being placed on Cotton’s body.
Davenport police Sgt. Brian Stevens with the department's traffic bureau said officers tracked and photographed tire marks leaving the school, turning onto Division Street and turning onto West 58th Street.
Based on the evidence available at the scene, Stevens said he could not make a determination of speed but said the tire marks indicated that there was acceleration.
Under questioning from Reyes, Stevens said that based on the available evidence on the roadway, it did not appear that Cotton "tumbled very far onto the roadway," leading him to believe that the vehicle was not driving at an "extreme high rate of speed" when Cotton separated from the truck.
Behan's attorneys maintain that he felt compelled to drive the vehicle the way he did "only by another's threat or menace of serious injury," according to court documents.
Stevens, under questioning from Shepherd, said Garcia never told him during interviews that Cotton was acting aggressively or had a weapon that night.