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Todd 'MJ' Schnitt vs. Love Sponge shock radio trial winding down in Tampa

TAMPA — Five years after Todd "MJ Kelli" Schnitt sued his radio rival, Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, it could all be over today.

The defense rested its case Tuesday. Closing statements are expected this morning.

The six jurors and four alternates have listened to two weeks of testimony that included hours of radio clips and testimony from the shock jocks themselves.

Schnitt and his wife say they were haunted by Clem's accusations.

On Cox Radio's WHPT-FM 102.5, Clem targeted Schnitt. He called Schnitt's wife a "whore." He accused her of conspiring against him. He insinuated that Schnitt accepted favors and gifts in exchange for plugs on-air — and that he may have tampered with radio ratings.

Clem says it was nothing more than theater and a "radio war," a long-honored tradition in the business.

On Tuesday, jurors heard from Brent Hatley, who worked with Clem and was charged along with him for an incident involving the on-air slaughter of a hog.

They also heard from Kimberly Collelo, known by her former radio name "Jabberjaw" on the MJ Morning Show.

She was the subject of one of the radio clips in evidence.

Collelo had called Clem's show and said she had heard from a "reliable" source that Schnitt had tampered with radio ratings.

She didn't know first-hand that Schnitt had done that, she testified Tuesday. She had simply heard that from a radio producer, Andrew Eden.

Later, Eden testified he never told Collelo that Schnitt had skewed ratings.

The defense rested its case late Tuesday morning.

In the afternoon, Circuit Judge James Arnold denied the defense's request that the judge throw out the remaining defamation charges. He had already thrown out five of them. A dozen more remain.

Arnold also denied the plaintiff's motion for a directed verdict.

Before the jury was brought in Tuesday, the lawyers involved in the case once again quibbled over issues surrounding allegations that Clem's lawyers set up one of Schnitt's lawyers for a DUI arrest.

Attorney C. Philip Campbell Jr. was arrested Jan. 23 after leaving Malio's Prime Steakhouse, and accusations more dramatic than the trial itself followed.

According to court testimony Friday, Campbell met a woman at Malio's who never revealed her full name, Melissa Personius, or the fact that she is a paralegal for Adams & Diaco, the firm representing Clem.

Campbell talked about his big case, according to testimony; the woman ordered drinks.

Police got a tip about Campbell at about 7:30 p.m. and police officers waited near the restaurant.

An officer pulled Campbell over at about 10 p.m.

Campbell left his trial bag in Personius' car and did not get it back for 20 hours.

Schnitt's attorneys are seeking cellphone records and have served subpoenas and set up a deposition for this week, said Norman Cannella Sr., who is representing one of the lawyers at the firm of Adams & Diaco.

Cannella said Schnitt's attorneys have filed a motion for contempt.

The judge once again shut down the attorneys.

"This court is not going to hear that this morning," Arnold said.

"We are five minutes into the jury's time. … I am not going to take up any of the jury's time taking up these subpoenas. That can be for another day."

Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3433.

Todd 'MJ' Schnitt vs. Love Sponge shock radio trial winding down in Tampa 01/29/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 11:24am]
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