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Prosecutors rest case in 'Delta Blues' trial of ex-officer

By Gavin Lesnick

This article was published December 12, 2012 at 10:18 a.m.

— Prosecutors have rested their case against a former Helena-West Helena police officer accused of protecting what she believed to be a shipment of drugs as it was moved through the city.

Marlene Kalb, one of dozens of defendants and six law enforcement officers indicted in the Operation Delta Blues investigation, is facing charges including money laundering and extortion.

Prosecutors rested their case on the third day of trial Wednesday morning after a police detective testified about an interview he had with Kalb on the morning of her Oct. 11, 2011 arrest.

Eric Knowles, a Little Rock Police Department officer assigned to the FBI who was one of hundreds called into the Helena area for the Delta Blues arrest sweep, said Kalb twice apologized when he confronted her about the allegations.

Prosecutors say Kalb accepted money from a felon posing as a drug trafficker in exchange for her escorting his vehicle through Helena. She has maintained her innocence, claiming she didn't think there were drugs in the vehicle and that she took the money to give it to another woman and not as a payment for herself.

Knowles said he told Kalb that sounded "ridiculous" and "untruthful."

"She didn't answer me verbally," he said. "Although she did shake her head yes that she understood."

Knowles said he then pressed Kalb to provide him with the "whole truth." He said she apologized and then he asked whether she knew what she did was wrong.

"She said, 'Yes, sir,'" Knowles said, noting Kalb had tears in her eyes at the time. "And once again she said she was sorry."

Knowles said Kalb also told him that she had information on corruption throughout the city and county. He said she "provided a gamut of information concerning local police officers, sheriff's deputies, judges and the county prosecutor as well."

Kalb's defense attorney, John Wesley Hall, pointed out in cross examination that the interview was not recorded. And, he said, Kalb will take the stand later Wednesday as the defense presents its case.

The trial before U.S. District Judge James Moody is expected to go to the jury after closing arguments Thursday afternoon.

For more on this story, read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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