- Sep 2, 2018
- Reaction score
That was brilliant.I had a chance to observe several murder trials in person and I recall several impressive opening and closing statements (not verbatim). Trying to imagine how the prosecutors will present this case, I have been looking online for closing arguments dealing with the question of circumstantial evidence and reasonable doubt. Here's an excerpt from prosecutor Larry Mackey's masterful closing in the case of United States v. McVeigh.
"Let me take a moment and talk a little bit about the deliberative process. We'll talk a little bit about one rule you may not find in the Judge's instructions to you. The first rule, of course, as he will tell you, is that the critical question is whether we have convinced you beyond a reasonable doubt of the charges that face this defendant. It does not mean that all of you have to agree about the evidence. You have to agree about what that evidence means. And so each of you will take, perhaps, in different degrees of sufficiency the evidence of one witness or another, a document; and what it means may strike one of you very differently than somebody else. You don't have to agree on how you reason. You don't have to agree on the weight you want to give a particular document or particular witness. All that you have to agree on collectively is that the Government has met its burden and proved beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against this defendant.
And in this case, there is some likelihood that you may react differently, each of you, to the evidence in this case, partly because there is so much different evidence. There's eyewitness accounts, there's documentary proof, fingerprints, chemical analysis, physical evidence from the Nichols house, physical evidence from McVeigh's car, physical evidence from his arrest, from the Murrah Building, testimony from family members who received immunity, testimony from friends who received immunity, testimony from experts, lay handwriting opinions, summary testimony on phone records, testimony from a person with a plea agreement, stipulations, models, diagrams, photographs, all to illustrate that testimony.
In this case, the Government has presented both direct and circumstantial evidence; and I expect his Honor will tell you the law draws no distinction between the two. And so you can be as persuaded by circumstantial evidence as the next juror might be by direct evidence. It's entirely up to you to give whatever weight you think the evidence is entitled to.
The evidence in this case draws a parallel, to my mind. I think it can be compared to meals that are served across this country on family get-togethers, large meals, often prepared by very proud mothers who intend to serve up something for everybody, who know that not everybody's going to like the sweet potatoes in the same way. They know that everybody's not going to like every one of the desserts served. But their objective is when that meal is done, each and every person can push away from that table entirely satisfied and maybe even stuffed.
Well, the evidence in this case that the Government's presented is a smorgasbord of evidence, and you are entitled to pick and choose; and our prediction is once you do that, you can push away from that evidence entirely satisfied that we have proven beyond a reasonable doubt the charges against this defendant."