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Defense rests in Kelly Thomas trial

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The defense called their last witness Dec. 18 in the Kelly Thomas trial, who said that Thomas died of methamphetamine cardiomyopathy.

Dr. Steven Karch, an independent forensic pathologist, was called by Michael Schwartz, attorney for Jay Cicinelli. Karch is an expert in drug related deaths and how they affect the heart and has also done research on psychosis and drug related deaths.

Karch said that he examined Thomas's heart from slides presented to him by the Orange County Coroner's office. He said that he found 'profound changes' in his heart, which he said were from stimulant use-whether methamphetamine or cocaine. He also said Thomas's enlarged heart was also indicative of stimulant use.

"The bigger your heart, the sooner you're going to die," Karch told the jury.

Karch said that he also examined the nuclei inside the heart, which he claimed were on "auto destruct." Karch said that he had never seen bad nuclei and wrote an article about this for a peer review journal.

Under cross examination from district attorney Tony Rackauckas, Karch said that Thomas's death was only the second human study he had done regarding drug related deaths and the heart-the rest were of rats and mice.

Two former Fullerton police officers are on trial in the death of Kelly Thomas, a homeless, schizophrenic man who encountered police July 5, 2011. Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Jay Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and assault and battery by a police officer.

The prosecution will present rebuttal witnesses tomorrow. Judge William Froeberg told the jury he expects them to begin deliberations by Jan. 8 or 9.

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