- Jun 27, 2019
- Reaction score
Yet, it's very hard to prove a murder case without the actual facts of a murder. The stage in Gannon Stauch's trial when the autopsy was covered was horrifying and of course the jury was upset.The defense will not want the jury to focus on the violence and severity of the victims’ wounds. The jurors will naturally be upset, disgusted, and horrified. It might even elicit vengeful feelings in them.
The jury needs to be upset at murder. The jury has to know all of the facts. The facts will likely show that that there was only one weapon, for example. WIthout that, the defense would be spinning it otherwise. The facts wlll also show (IMO) a careful pattern of wounds, perhaps similar from person to person (showing some pre-meditation - but obviously, even if the first murder was somehow a crime of passion, all the rest had to have been pre-meditated). By the time the killer killed one person, the killer had time to realize they had a knife in their hand and were killing people.
The pain and suffering of the victims must be shown to the jury, in my opinion, and they will have extra jurors just in case someone can't handle it. Most adults who become jurors can handle it, though - although one juror in the Stauch case was allowed to turn her head, and eventually, cover her head with a blanket (this was after the autopsy day, but she both wanted to stay on the jury AND to block out the face of the defendant - or something, it was never clear why the blanket, except as a comfort to her).
The manner of death must be shown and the autopsy will be discussed. Will the Defense try a tactic to prevent actual pictures from being shown? Possibly - I suppose there could be a stipulation but if and only if the State agrees. I think the State should make it clear during voir dire that this is a quadruple homicide, by knife, and seek to find if some jurors feel they have too much anxiety to deal with it). I predict that most in the jury pool will steel themselves and be able to do it. I'd guess that psychological resources can be offered to the juror (both during the trial and afterwards).
They didn't show a bunch of pictures in the Stauch case, IIRC. The State will have to decide what type of visual evidence they want to provide (there are ways of doing it that would be less traumatizing for everyone). Maybe there will only be testimony and no pictures - it will still be haunting and gruesome. But I think there will also be pictures and if one victim (say, Ethan) had a different wound pattern, I think that matters factually to the case. And if one or more victims had defensive wounds, that will be reflected on their body.
Even more gut-wrenching, I believe, will be Steve Gonçalves on the stand during the penalty phase.
The Defense, of course, can simply refuse to cross-examine - but I doubt they will. I should also add that the pictures in civil cases (from autopsies) can be just as horrifying - and I've never been at a civil wrongful death trial where the autopsy isn't covered by a professional and *some* pictures aren't shown. The jury is supposed to know *all* the facts and make their decision accordingly.