SAN DIEGO — A verdict for the Navy sailor Ryan Mays could come at any minute Thursday evening or Friday morning.
On Thursday, day nine of the trial, the prosecution and defense had their closing arguments that went on for two hours.
“I’m sure he’s anxious to have this completed. I think the closing arguments are probably helping him deal with getting through this,” said Gary Barthel, trial consultant lawyer and former attorney for Mays.
Captain Jason “Jay” Jones, for the prosecution, started off by saying that the fire destroyed the former USS Bonhomme Richard was a “mischievous act done by a disgruntled person.”
Jones said that Mays had motive, because he was upset over having to drop out of SEAL training.
The prosecution claims that Mays had said he did not like working or living on deck. They said Mays had an opportunity because the storage area where the fire started is open access to everyone on ship.
Jones said Mays had the ability with materials in the area.
“I think the government’s argument was based primarily on circumstantial evidence, and the fact that the judge has to use his common sense and reasonable ways of the world in coming to a conclusion on this case,” Barthel said.
Prosecution said Mays changed his clothes after the fire, which defense said prosecution did not provide a witness for that theory.
Defense attorney Lieutenant Commander Jordi Torres started his closing argument with playing part of Mays’ nine-hour interrogation video from NCIS. In the video he is seen crying, saying “It wasn’t me.”
“To show the judge that, ‘Hey, this is who this individual is. He’s a 19-year-old kid who’s being accused of doing something he didn’t do, and this is a real reaction,’” Barthel said.
Defense claims Mays was cheerful and upbeat the day before the fire. They said Mays hung out with friends, went on a date, worked out and was even trying to find a way back into SEAL training.
Defense said the government has no evidence, no DNA and is acting unfair calling Mays disgruntled.
“The defense is saying the government’s case is built on bias, and they came into this investigation bias, it affected the way they did the investigation, and so it’s not credible,” Barthel said.
Defense said the area where the fire broke out was junk and that something else, like a lithium battery, could have started the fire.
Defense slammed the prosecution experts, including ATF agent who said they did not take photos or notes.
“The major issues the judge is going to have to evaluate in coming to a decision in this case is evaluating the credibility of the witnesses, especially Valesco. And then he is going to have to deal with scientific evidence. Whether or not this was an incendiary flame, whether it was a case of arson, or if there were other potential causes,” Barthel said.