Closing arguments begin Thursday in Dr. McElwee trial

5:20 pm Sept. 30
The defense rested their case at 4:20 pm.  Judge Maurice Hicks sent the jury home because he expects closing arguments will take three hours.
Closing arguments will begin Thursday morning at 10:15 a.m.

4:00 pm Sept. 30
Evidence prepared by one of the prosecuting attorneys for the prescription drug fraud trial of Dr. Tandy McElwee, his wife and a third defendant prompted another outburst from a member of the jury.

When prosecutor Mignonne Griffing approached the witness podium to cross-examine defendant Catherine Cockrell, one juror loudly said, "Good Lord," referring to the amount of paperwork evidence Griffing had with her.

Griffing then went through a countless number of prescriptions, both in Cockrell's name and allegedly written by her to several Bossier Parish pharmacies.

The defense has just begun their re-questioning of Cockrell.

3:00 pm Sept. 30
When court resumed after lunch, the defense got an opportunity to question Dr. Tandy McElwee one more time after prosecutors were finished. Their redirect lasted 15 minutes.

In his testimony, McElwee stated he began using pre-signed prescription pads when he went into practice by himself.

Ava McElwee's attorney, Allan Stroud, only called one witness in defense of his client. The witness was Ava Elizabeth Cates, Ava McElwee's 18-year-old niece.

The teen testified she had gotten cough medicines from Dr. McElwee's office. Under cross-examination, prosecutors asked if she would go to McElwee's office to get the medicines or if McElwee ever performed a physical examination of her. The girl answered no to both questions.

Just before 2:00 pm, an emotional Catherine Cockrell took the stand. When she did, a juror was heard loudly saying, "we might get out of here yet."

Cockrell told the jury about when she started working for McElwee back in 1999. She said she started as a part-time employee because she had to pick up her child from school.

Cockrell testified she was never given a prescription pad and she never had a desk. She said she did handwrite some prescriptions, but not on any pre-signed pads. She also said part of her duties included phoning in prescriptions to pharmacies.

According to Cockrell, she perceived this as the proper way to do things.

Her attorney, Richard Gorley, then asked about an incident in 2008 when she called in a false prescription while working for Dr. Waltman, a physician with Willis-Knighton. Gorley asked Cockrell why she did that. Visibly fighting back tears, Cockrell responded she couldn't answer that question.

When Gorley said that wasn't a good thing to do, Cockrell agreed.

The incident from 2008 mentioned by Gorley is not related to the prescription drug fraud indictment Cockrell is currently on trial for.

Under more questioning from Gorley, Cockrell said she never called in a false prescription for McElwee, she never faxed in a false prescription for McElwee, and she never called in a prescription for herself. She said did not use a prescription that she didn't sign for and that wasn't needed for a legitimate medical reason.

Before a mid-afternoon break, prosecutors raised objections to some questions asked by Gorley because they were based on hearsay. Judge Maurice Hicks called a recess so defense attorneys could prepare their counter-arguments to the objection motions.

12:30 pm Sept. 30
Judge Maurice Hicks had some harsh words for Dr. Tandy McElwee during his federal court trial on prescription drug fraud.

During the late morning session of the trial, prosecutor Allison Bushnell was cross-examining the doctor. On two separate occasions, Bushnell apparently laughed at McElwee's responses.

After Bushnell laughed the second time, McElwee turned to Judge Maurice Hicks. In an emotional tone, he told the judge, "I don't mind doing this, but I just don't want to be laughed at."

Hicks immediately sent the jury out of the courtroom. Once the jury was gone, Hicks told McElwee, "The next time you pop off like that, I will remand you. You will be held by the U.S. Marshals in contempt of court."

Hicks went on to say this isn't an ideal world. He said different attorneys have different styles and a poker face is not necessary in a court of law.

At that point, Defense Attorneys Marty Stroud and Allen Stroud motioned for a mistrial, which was denied by Hicks.

Allen Stroud put on the record his motion for a mistrial was because of the perception of a linkage between the court and the prosecution. He added if he had laughed while DEA Special Agent Robert Webb was on the stand, it would have been a different story.

10:30 am Sept. 30
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Dr. Tandy McElwee returned to the stand Wednesday morning as his federal prescription fraud trial continued into its fifth day.

All three defense attorneys took the opportunity to question McElwee during the morning session. Richard Gorley, the attorney for Catherine Cockrell, asked Dr. McElwee if he wrote the prescriptions in question for legitimate medical reasons. McElwee said that he did.

During cross-examination, prosecutors asked Dr. McElwee if he was aware that problematic prescriptions were being filled out of his office. He confirmed he was somewhat aware of the problem back in May 2006, yet he also testified that he authorized Wendy Criss, one of his employees, to order Hydrocodone.

Prosecutors also asked Dr. McElwee if his office staff knew that Brandi was his dog. He confirmed that the staff knew.

Dr. McElwee also confirmed that Catherine Cockrell picked up prescriptions in Brandi's name.

We will have continuing coverage of the trial throughout the day on

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