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In for Life: Day Five of the Michael Tate Trial

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Day five of Michael Tate's murder trial began with Tate's defense team trying to discredit his partner in crime, Michael Fitzgerald, who was testifying against Tate as a part of his plea agreement to a second degree murder charge, which landed Fitzgerald 62 years in prison for his role in the murder of his father back in 2004. The defense focused on the discrepancies in the many versions of Fitzgerald's story, which range from Fitzgerald throwing a post hole digger at his father like a spear, to Fitzgerald throwing the post hole digger to his father to aid him in the fight for his life -- which he ultimately lost.

Next, the defense focused on Fitzgerald's allegations that he had been raped in Jefferson County Jail. While Fitzgerald maintained that he was raped at least once, he also came clean that he made up other tales of rape with the hopes that his being labeled a victim could help him beat his murder case in court. Some of Fitzgerald's testimony also focused on another sequence of disputed events, in which Fitzgerald had been saving up his medication as a teen with plans of using it to poison his family by slipping it in their drinks, he has previously said. However, Fitzgerald now says that he was saving the medications up to take his own life.

Much of the rest of day five focused on the time that Michael Tate spent in the state mental institution down in Pueblo, where he was evaluated for both his sanity and competence to stand trial. Tate was found competent, and an expert witness testified that Tate intentionally scored poorly on sanity tests with hopes of being found insane.

As the discussions and testimony of Tate's sanity and competency ensued, Tate spent most of the day doodling in a notebook, by the end of the day he had his head in his folded arms on the table and appeared to be sleeping through the testimony that could send him to prison forever.

Aside from the opening arguments, today was the first day that jurors got a peak into the life of Michael Tate, who was taken from his family and put into the social services system at age three, shortly after which his behavioral problems were first documented. By age five he was being evaluated for mental illnesses and Tate never knew family life again; rather, he spent the next twelve years bouncing around from foster home to group home as well as in and out of mental institutions. Tate was aggressive toward other kids, bit his foster mother’s breasts and tried to kill himself by the age of twelve. He once threatened to blow up the Denver Children's Home.

As the prosecution made their case, the defense team sat with a few dozen binders on a shelf beside them, all of which are four to six inches thick and document the seventeen years of Michael Tate's life that culminated in the murder of his friend's father.

"The same county that raised him is now prosecuting him," Tate's attorney Shawna Geiger said. -- Luke Turf

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