Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is facing a 17-count indictment in Brooklyn Federal Court that could send him to jail for life, announced Monday that the he will not be testifying on his own behalf.
Speaking to the court for the first time, Guzmán stood at the defense table to tell Judge Brian Cogan that he is choosing not to give testimony in the case.
“You have the absolute right to testify. Is this your decision?” Cogan asked El Chapo.
“Yes,” the defendant responded. “They counseled me and I agreed.”
The prosecution, which has been presenting their argument since the trial began last November, rested their case Monday afternoon. Though they have been cross-examining witnesses throughout the entire trial, building their case, Guzmán’s defense is set to bring a witness on Tuesday, a federal enforcement agent, according to court filings. Closing arguments are expected to begin on Wednesday.
The trial, which could go into jury deliberations as soon as Friday, has brought new insight to the life of the alleged kingpin. For years, Guzmán has delighted in his own legend, helping to create a narrative of a ruthless cartel leader who is beholden to no law or country — he famously escaped from maximum security prison in Mexico twice. But thanks to a stream of cooperating witnesses — including the son of his business partner Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García, numerous former employees and even an old mistress — a more realistic image of the alleged kingpin has emerged; one who let his ego lead him to mistakes that may eventually bring him down.
Additional reporting from Noah Hurowitz
Update: The defense has clarified that they are only going to call one witness, not two, as was stated in a previous version of this story.