Defense calls vision, audio experts in trial of Cleveland cop charged with manslaughter

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CLEVELAND- The trial of a Cleveland police officer charged in the November 2012 deadly chase and shooting continued Monday morning with defense witnesses.

Michael Brelo, 31, faces two counts of voluntary manslaughter for the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams.

The prosecution wrapped its case on Wednesday after calling police officers, forensic experts and families members of the victims. Prosecutors accuse Officer Brelo of acting unreasonably when he fired 49 times in Russell's Chevrolet Malibu behind Heritage Middle School on Nov. 29, 2012.

Defense attorneys maintain Brelo feared for his life and the lives of his fellow officers after a 22-minute chase through the city of Cleveland.

Brelo's attorney began their case by calling forensic audio expert Gregg Stutchman, who said the gunfire last just more than 19 seconds. He disagreed with the prosecution's audio experts on a 4.2-second break into between two distinct waves of shots. Stutchman said there was another shot in the middle of that break.

Next, Dr. Paul Michel took the stand. He said Officer Brelo would have experienced overwhelming disabilities to his vision, preventing him for seeing if the occupants of the car were armed. Michel also said the strobing overhead police lights would cause Brelo to think Russell and Williams were still moving.

On Sunday, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell denied the defense motion to dismiss the charges. He did, however, dismiss the gun specification. O'Donnell is hearing the case, instead of a jury.

For continuing coverage of the trial of Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo, click here.

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