Attorneys lay out cases in Larry Langford trial

Larry Langford walks into court Tuesday morning (WBRC video)
Larry Langford walks into court Tuesday morning (WBRC video)

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - The lead prosecutor in the Larry Langford corruption trial told jurors the case was about a "wrong done by a powerful, popular politician," while the attorney representing Langford said Birmingham's mayor was "manipulated and entrapped."

Attorneys for the prosecution and defense laid out their opening arguments Tuesday morning. Langford is accused of federal corruption and bribery.

Federal prosecutor George Martin went first, telling jurors, "This is a case about a wheeling and dealing politician."  Martin used different size boxes to explain that even the smallest lie or deceit is wrong.

Langford is accused of accepting more than $260,000 in bribes to steer Jefferson County business to Montgomery businessman Bill Blount. Prosecutors say the money was funneled through Al LaPierre.

Martin told jurors Tuesday morning it would take multiple witnesses and lots of paper to lay out money trail between the three men.  He concluded his opening statement by saying, "this is no joke or political cartoon....it's wrong done by powerful, popular politician."

Langford defense attorney Mike Rasmussen then opened his case to the jurors, standing behind Langford and telling them, "This is Larry.  He's not guilty."

Rasmussen then told jurors Blount was the schemer who manipulated and entrapped Langford and said LaPierre hid Blount's involvement from Langford. Rasmussen said Langford has 2 faults: overspending and trusting others to finish what he starts.

Rasmussen then went on to explain more details about their so-called "gifts theory," a key to Langford's defense strategy.  Rasmussen said money Blount gave to Langford was gifts, not bribes, and said Langford put Blount in deals because of politics and this was the practice in that time.

Rasmussen concluded his opening statement by saying the case is, "a stab in the back and a deal with the devil."

Earlier this year, both Blount and LaPierre plead guilty to charges in connection with the case.

Before opening arguments began Tuesday morning, the judge warned jurors to protect themselves from text messages or emails that might influence them.