There is a closing argument that has ‘made the rounds”. Why it is apparently fiction, it’s still has Hollywood-like impact to explain the concept of reasonable doubt in a criminal trial. The story goes something like this:
A Defense attorney was giving his closing argument in a case where his client had been charged with murdering his wife. Prosecutors had used circumstantial evidence because her body had never been found. Knowing that all he had to do was create a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jurors for a finding of not guilty, he decided to use a creative closing argument.
Defense counsel emphatically proclaimed that his client was not guilty of killing his wife, because she was still alive. Then, he told the jury that he was going to prove that she was still alive. He then pointed his finger at the back door and said, “I will prove that she is still alive because she is going to walk through those doors right now”.
Every juror turned and looked in the direction of the defense lawyer’s outstretched arm. That’s when the defense lawyer said that the jury had to find his client not guilty. The fact that they had looked at the doors with the anticipation of the wife walking through them, was proof that there was reasonable doubt that his client had killed his wife. The defense lawyer then sat down.
The prosecutor slowly rose from his seat to begin his closing. He too pointed towards the courtroom doors. Then, he calmly spoke as he looked at the jurors, “I know for sure that the defendant killed his wife. Here is how I know. Every eye in this courtroom looked at that door when defense lawyer told you that the wife would be walking through the door. Every eye but…the defendant didn’t bother to look, because he knows that she’s not going to walk through those doors. He knows, because he killed her.”
I was reminded of that story when I read a story yesterday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch titled An ex-Midlothian man’s trial, witness says he saw woman presumed slain.
The writer is reporting that the defendant defiantly testified that he did not kill his girlfriend (Story here). Then, he went on to explain why her blood was in his house.
The defense then called a witness to testify that he had recently seen the girlfriend on an airplane flight, as she walked up and down the aisle. He explained that he knew it was her because he had seen her picture “on every telephone pole” near his house. Then he testified that, “If this is not the lady on the plane, then she has an identical twin out there, and I mean identical”.
The prosecuting attorney then stood to cross examine that witness. He was able to establish that the witness had gotten confused over the defense and prosecuting attorney by calling the prosecutor by the defense attorney’s name. Both wear glasses and have thick hair.
The witness admitted to getting the lawyers mixed up, but he also added that he had provided that information several months earlier to law enforcement and they told him to keep silent about seeing the woman on the flight. We will see if that testimony created reasonable doubt when we learn of the verdict.
added note: Defendant was found guilty. Question answered!
And for pic o’ day, we have a cartoon of “insurance evidence”.