On a day that provided more courtroom theater than usual, the Jonathan Broyhill murder trial broke for the weekend Friday with the defense team still cross-examining the lead detective.
Earlier in the day, public defender Joseph Arbour asked the judge to clear the jury from the courtroom so he could bring up issues that were troubling him.
With the jurors out of earshot, Arbour accused Judge Paul Ridgeway of showing favor to prosecutors because of rulings against the defense.
Broyhill is accused of first-degree murder in the 2013 stabbing of Jamie Hahn. He also is accused of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon intending to inflict serious injury for knife wounds suffered by her husband, Nation Hahn.
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Arbour, animated and agitated Friday, asked Ridgeway to recuse himself from the proceedings and to declare a mistrial. He ticked off a list of rulings that he thought supported his request – such as Ridgeway asking Arbour to refer to his client and the Hahns by their surnames and the judge’s limitations on the form and substance of questions Arbour could ask lead detective Zeke Morse in cross-examination.
“I’m not giving some diatribe here to put on some show,” Arbour said, his finger raised in the air to underscore his point. “This man’s entitled to a fair trial and that’s not happening right now – and you’re not allowing it.”
Ridgeway, typically even-keeled and gentle-mannered at the bench, recessed to his chambers before denying both requests.
The jury was then called into the courtroom, and the cross-examination of Morse continued for the remainder of the day.
Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette has said it is unlikely that the state will call any more witnesses after Morse. Arbour has said the defense plans to call at least one or two witnesses.
Arbour used question after question Friday to try to pull from Morse details about the fragile state of mind Broyhill was in when he arrived at the hospital after the April 22, 2013 stabbing. Broyhill was under police guard there, suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds.
Broyhill talked freely with Morse at the hospital, opting not to request a lawyer to be by his side.
Arbour and public defender Caroline Elliot have acknowledged that Broyhill used the knife that fatally injured Jamie Hahn.
The trial has focused on the intent of Broyhill when he went to the Hahns’ North Raleigh home that day, as questions were growing about financial irregularities in a campaign account related to former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller.
The defense team has acknowledged that Broyhill took more than $45,000 from the fund, but it is unclear whether Jamie Hahn knew the depth of the problems when she asked Broyhill, her husband’s friend and the best man at their wedding, to come over that day to go over the books with her.
During his cross-examination of Morse, Arbour tried to point out details that support the defense arguments that Broyhill was in such a dark and confused state of mind that the killings were not premeditated.
Broyhill had lied not only about the thousands of dollars he took from the account but also about several health scares – telling the Hahns falsely that he had gall bladder surgery, multiple sclerosis and was about to be tested for pancreatic cancer.
Broyhill told the detective that he would take the health lies to such great lengths that he would have friends drop him off at hospitals for what they thought were doctor’s appointments. He would then walk through the halls until he thought sufficient time had passed to make his helpers believe he truly had been seen by a physician.
Morse, throughout his testimony, said Broyhill had told him he had been at the Hahns’ home for about 15 minutes alone with Jamie Hahn before her husband arrived from an early work day.
Jamie Hahn and Broyhill were on the ground floor of the house and Nation Hahn was upstairs when he heard his wife scream.
Jamie Hahn was able to escape the house but did not survive the wounds suffered there. She died early in the morning on April 24, 2013.
Shortly before the trial recessed for the weekend, Arbour looked at Morse’s notes from interviews in the hospital room and posed one question that played to the theories of motive.
Broyhill told Morse he bought the 8-inch kitchen knife used in the attack on April 14, 2013, just to hurt himself, the detective said. Morse said Broyhill told him he had contemplated killing himself many times.
The detective also acknowledged that Broyhill said over and over “he didn’t want to hurt Jamie.”