Entwistle’s Lack of Any Defense

 

Reasonable Doubt Defense–Not Reasonable, Not Effective



Long before I was selected to serve as a juror in a criminal trial, I recognized that most “reasonable doubt” defenses are simply DOA. Why? Because they rely on revealing chinks in the prosecution’s armor rather than tearing the armor off the body of the prosecution’s theory of the crime. (A ghastly metaphor, but at least it involves the idea of a life-and-death struggle, which a criminal trial is.)



I’m a storyteller. Trial lawyers are supposed to be storytellers, too. Prosecutors always have a story to tell the jury (and they almost always tediously employ the metaphor of a puzzle to give it coherence). But, for some inexplicable reason, defense attorneys seldom present a coherent story; instead they rely on nitpicking the prosecution. Then, in their summations, they threaten the jury with the duty to find the defendant not guilty if they have any reasonable doubts about the prosecution’s case. The implication is that a jury that finds a defendant guilty, despite the failings of police and prosecutors, is stupid or vindictive. This is foolish. It’s poor rhetoric. It’s not storytelling.



In every high-profile trial in which the defense had the guts to tell a story, the jury has either found the defendant to be not guilty or has been unable to reach a consensus that the defendant is guilty: O. J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, Phil Spector. What do these defendants have in common? They walked. They had attorneys who presented a substantial defense case.



In every high-profile trial in which the defendant was found guilty–despite excellent cross-examination of prosecution witnesses by the defense–the defense attorneys declined to present a case or failed to present a substantial case for an alternative theory of the crime. The most-glaring example of this is the Scott Peterson trial. Other examples include the juvenile Cody Posie, New Jersey nurse Melanie McGuire, and Neil Entwistle.



Let me be very clear: I am not saying that I think O. J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Phil Spector are innocent or that I think Scott Peterson, Cody Posie, Melanie McGuire, and Neil Entwistle are necessarily guilty of the crimes of which they were convicted. I’m saying that all of these defendants’ lawyers are entirely responsible for the juries’ verdicts. (I do recognize that some of the lawyers were fighting an uphill battle against poor judges. In several of these cases, the judges admitted highly prejudicial, irrelevant evidence. But that’s another post altogether.)



O. J. Simpson: This was not jury nullification. This was a good defense. The “Dream Team” not only tore away at the chinks in the armor, it also made a case for racial bias on the part of the investigators and presented evidence (no matter how flimsy) of possible drug involvement on the victims’ parts, which could have led to a drug-related murder. This is what reasonable doubt is supposed to mean: the jury had many reasonable doubts about the blood evidence and the objectivity of the police investigation. They also had a reasonable alternative scenario to consider. The prosecution also made a fatal error: its case was overkill. The endless discussion of statistics served no purpose but to convince the jury (in the pre-CSI era) that the DNA evidence was just so much smoke.



Michael Jackson: The defense quite properly attacked the credibility of the accuser and presented an alternative theory, namely, that the accuser’s mother was a gold-digger (and frankly that much was clear–in my opinion, the prosecution ought to have charged her as one of the conspirators).



Phil Spector: This trial is a classic example of my “case.” The prosecution presented an excellent, coherent theory of the crime–with one small flaw (the victim’s mood on the evening of the crime was not clearly established). The defense, however, presented a thorough, plausible alternative story (thorough, IMHO, except for the issue of the defendant’s actions after the shooting but before the police arrived).



Cody Posie: This juvenile defendant was accused of murdering his father, his stepmother, and his stepsister. There was no question as to whether or not he killed them. The issue before the jury was whether he was capable of forming an intent at the time of the crime. The jury found him guilty, although ultimately the judge sentenced him as a juvenile so that he could receive psychological treatment in a juvenile detention center. The defense made an excellent case for Posie having been driven to the act by years of physical and psychological abuse, and the prosecution was abysmal: the lead prosecutor seemed too up-tight to be able to admit that the father, stepmother, and stepsister could have had a kinky sexual relationship from which Posie was excluded or in which he was a reluctant participant. But this flaw in the prosecution was also a flaw in the defense. The defense attorney (though very dramatic and passionate) never explained for the jury why Posie killed his stepsister. After all, it was his father (and to some extent his stepmother) who abused him. The jury clearly believed the defense, since they found Posie guilty of lesser offenses for killing his parents. The defense failed to emphasize the evidence that the stepsister had repeatedly snitched on Posie to their parents, which had instigated several episodes of abuse. This was ample cause for him to vent his anger on her during the episode of “madness.” In addition, evidence of the stepsister’s sexual involvement with her stepfather was not presented at the trial, presumably because she was a juvenile. But there were hints of this in testimony. For example, I believe that a ranch hand testified that he had seen the father and stepsister exiting a barn (apparently with straw clinging to their clothing) where no work was required. But the defense “tactfully” (?) avoided calling attention to any of this. (The ranch-hand’s remarks may have been off-the-record, as were the other hints about the stepsister’s behavior.) In other words, the defense was not coherent. The jury had no choice but to find Posie guilty of first-degree murder of his stepsister.



Melanie McGuire: This New Jersey nurse was accused of shooting her husband and then dismembering him in their bathroom after draining all the blood from his body. The prosecution’s case was highly flawed, and the defense cross-examination of their witnesses was stunning. The defense proved (to my satisfaction) that the defendant could not possibly have committed the crime in the apartment as alleged or have dismembered the body there. It was clear to me that she would have needed an accomplice, and her lover (a doctor at a fertility clinic) was the most likely candidate–he just so happened to have purchased a buzz saw right before the murder. But–for some inexplicable reason–neither side wanted to discuss the possibility of an accomplice. The defense was skimpy (a pattern that I’m beginning to discern in all reasonable-doubt cases), but they did present an excellent scientific witness (to counter some junk science presented by the prosecution). Then, in summation, though, the defense failed to connect any of the dots. The most glaring lacuna (and one which the jury seemed to focus on, if their questions for the judge are any indication) was a failure to explain a certain Fed Ex package the cops received. Given the evidence, the jury had no choice but to believe the prosecution’s theory that the defendant sent the package in an attempt to cast suspicion on “the mob.” Since the package contained the victim’s ring and other items, it was obviously sent by the killer. The defense ought to have connected these dots to someone else or explained the package in some other way. Every defense must connect the dots to form a coherent story.



Neil Entwistle: I’ve written about this trial previously. The defense did not present a case, even though they had the excellent defense of Phil Spector as a model for a case of victim-suicide. I can’t figure out why the defense brought on no witnesses. The Entwistle family was present in the courtroom throughout the trial–inviting the jury to expect them to testify about the characters of the defendant and his dead wife. The jury surely took this as an admission that they could not find any evidence of suicide to present. I know the instructions always say that the jury is not to hold the failure to present a case against the defendant, but in lieu of a coherent story, the jury had no choice but to accept the prosecution’s theory.



Again, let me be very, very clear. I have my opinions about whodunit in all of these cases. I’m far from certain that any innocent people were condemned unjustly.

Still, defense attorneys don’t always defend their clients, even though they have sworn to do so. I sat in a jury box and listened to a public defender state in his opening that his client was guilty of two of the three charges to which he had pled “Not Guilty.” And I firmly believe that defense attorneys are taught in law school how to defend based on a case of reasonable doubt. But this is foolishness.

A case of reasonable doubt is no case at all.



 



 



 



 





A Juror’s Sad Duty: The Neil Entwistle Trial

I Pity the Neil Entwistle Jury


On-camera legal commentators and journalists must be the most cynical, compassion-free creatures on the planet. Yesterday, when Neil Entwistle’s telephone interview was played in court, I heard not a single word of compassion for the man. In the eyes of the media, he is clearly presumed guilty. I feel a great deal of compassion for this young man. He strikes me as a 21st century Willie Loman (“Death of a Salesman”).

I greatly pity the jury its job. Surely there’s at least one person with a soul on the jury. This aspect of jury duty is something I rarely see expressed in the media.


A good juror is one who withholds judgment until after the closing arguments and hearing the judge’s instructions. A good juror is one whose life experiences are vast enough to have taught her a bit of wisdom and a great deal of compassion, something that police officers cannot afford to have and that journalists appear simply to lack. A good juror is wary of the power of the state and of its fallibility. A good juror feels torn between pity for the victim and compassion for the killer. A good juror isn’t a would-be Spider Man who wants to right all wrongs.


Neil Entwistle strikes me as a frightened, shy, depressed young man, who is ashamed of what he did. The question is what he did to feel so guilty. Did he murder his beloved wife and child and then in the end lack the courage to kill himself? Or did he discover their bodies, realize that his wife’s post-partum depression drove her to kill her baby and then herself? If the latter, does he feel responsible, because he was unable to help her, unable to find a job and provide for his family, or is it because he “left them” there feeling as if he should “finish” himself off, too–and then lacked the courage to do that?


Entwistle’s taped remark that he had been scheduled for what I take to be a job interview, which was cancelled but he hadn’t told his wife, tells me he was very ashamed of his failure to find a job. It also explains to me why he left the house “to run errands” and then didn’t accomplish any: he was likely pretending to his wife that he still had to go to the interview. One commentator said this was a highly suspicious errand run, but in the taped interview, I believe I heard him say he went to a shopping center next door to the building where the interview had been scheduled. What a pathetic picture this paints for me.


I hope the jury will ask themselves whether Entwistle’s description of finding the bodies sounds false. To me, it rings true. His statement that at first he thought his wife was sleeping sounds authentic. Right after death, the body is completely slack, relaxed. The description of her pale skin to me indicates she had been dead less than half an hour. The blood was still draining from her face, and rigor mortis had not yet begun in the jaw.

Imagine how you would feel if you walked into your bedroom and found your spouse like that? And what if you found your spouse holding your child in one hand and a pistol in the other? What would you do? Would you turn her in to the cops? Would you contemplate suicide yourself? Would you be in shock and then behave erratically?

One scenario that makes sense to me is that Neil Entwistle found the gun and took it back to the in-laws’ house, where it came from–because he did not want his wife to be remembered as a baby killer and a suicide. And maybe she (or both of them) was Catholic, and he wanted to be sure she would receive a Christian burial, with her baby. (He did specifically request that the bodies be buried together, because “that’s how [he] left them.”) Or maybe he was afraid he’d be accused of killing them (as he has been), and he wanted to remove the gun so the police would think an intruder had done it.


I don’t think I want to blog again about this case until the verdict is in. I truly feel that if I were on the jury, I would like and pity Neil Entwistle, regardless of what he may have done. He comes from a working class family, but he made it through college and earned an engineering degree. He misses his homeland, family, and friends. He respects his parents and in-laws. He clearly loved his wife and child deeply.

Neil Entwistle Mystery: Was it Suicide?

Today, Neil Entwistle’s attorney introduced the possibility of suicide as the cause of Rachel Entwistle’s death. I’ve been waiting for this. I wonder if the jurors were. Of course, suicide raises the issue of how the gun made its way back into the gun collection at Entwistle’s in-laws’ house after the shooter pulled the trigger. It’s almost a classic locked room mystery or an impossible circumstances  puzzle. Not only is it impossible that a suicide returned the gun to the locked box, but by an unlikely coincidence the very next day someone cleaned the gun (apparently his first lesson in gun-cleaning). This postmortem gun-cleaning also, strangely enough, didn’t remove all the DNA or fingerprints (smudged) from the gun, including blood and brain matter.


So, there are two Christie-esque mysteries here: 1) how did the gun get back into the locked box, and 2) why didn’t the person who cleaned the gun notice blood stains on the cloth he used to clean the gun? Wouldn’t a gun that had blood on it after a cleaning have had more on it before the cleaning?


I’m very curious about how the defense will resolve these questions. They can’t leave this as simply unanswered questions that ought to raise reasonable doubt in the jurors’ minds. Unless the defense connects the dots in one or more logical ways, the jurors will have to believe that Neil Entwistle is guilty, and he returned the gun to the locked box–exactly what the prosecution has charged.


This is another example of the way that trial lawyers must be very good rhetoricians. The prosecution has already told the jury a coherent story. Now the defense will have to present at least one alternative, coherent story, too. That phrase “connect the dots” came up in jury deliberations when I was on the jury. Both sides had failed to connect a number of dots for us. Lawyers and judges may tell juries not to speculate about things not presented in the trial, but it is absolutely impossible for a sentient being not to try to connect the dots.


Whodunit in the Entwistle case? Who put the gun back in the locked box? Why was the gun cleaned the next day? Why didn’t anyone notice blood on the gun?


 


 

Neil Entwistle’s Tell-Tale Hard Drive: Computer Forensics and Junk Science

I have a very difficult time understanding why judges allow evidence of most computer-hard-drive searches in murder trials–but, then, I also have a hard time understanding why library records and video-rental records are allowed in evidence.

Today’s so-called computer forensics evidence in the Neil Entwistle murder trial is junk. What you look at online and what you read do not prove you are a criminal.


About a decade ago I got into an argument on a listserv about whether or not a defendant’s fingerprints on a library book were ever used as evidence in a trial. All the librarians on the list insisted it was against the librarian code of ethics to permit police to access library records, and a lawyer on the list said that this wouldn’t be permitted by a judge as a violation of privacy rights. So, I had to give them a URL with the story. (I recently searched for this and couldn’t find it, or I would provide it here.) As I recall, the book in question had information on poisons. A woman was convicted of murder because her fingerprints were on the book. Since then, every time I check out a book with potentially fatal facts, I think about this. It makes me want to wear surgical gloves to the library.


Now, of course, the Patriot Act requires librarians to turn over their records. I’m not surprised that the government wants access to such things, but I am surprised that judges really think the books you touch, as well as the books you read, are probative in a criminal investigation.


Judges permit all sorts of junk evidence into trials. The most recent fad seems to be computer search records.


I do believe that computer forensics is a powerful investigative tool, but such information ought not to be used in trials. Computer forensics is an art, not a science. The development of the “clues” depends entirely on the quality of the software used to extract it from the hard drive. Everyone in the software industry knows the saying “garbage in, garbage out.” What that means is that the output of any program depends not only on the quality of the data fed in but also the algorithms that do the processing. Currently, several companies supply hard-drive analysis software to law enforcement, but there is no “standards body” to vet the software for accuracy or thoroughness.


Then, the analysis of the meaning of the output is entirely an art. A list of web searches or page downloads is meaningless in and of itself. A human brain has to interpret it, and interpretation is . . . well, given to interpretation.


I heard some of the testimony concerning Neil Entwistle’s searches around the time of the crime. The commentators seem to think some of the searches were incredibly incriminating and “probative” of his state of mind. Now, I suppose I would be shocked to hear that my husband was searching for escort services, whether or not I was recently delivered of a child. And I suppose Entwistle’s searches for ways to stab someone in the neck indicates that at some time and for some reason he had some “dark” thoughts. But the other searches were completely innocuous. Why didn’t everyone stipulate to the fact that he was looking for a job online and that he was often thinking of hopping on a plane and going home to England? These searches are not evidence of a crime.


Re: Escort Services–I don’t believe what the commentators say about how the jury will react to this evidence. Young people these days have different attitudes toward sex than those of us who are a bit older. Europeans, including the English, are much more relaxed than we are about sex. Young men who have strong sex drives often look for “a bit on the side” during their wives’ pregnancies and afterwards. (Did anyone see “The Tudors” episode in which Ann Boleyn “gives” Henry one of her ladies in waiting while she’s pregnant?)


Re: Web Surfing with the Bodies in the House–Consider “time stamps.” This is one of the problems with computer forensics. When the precise time of a crime is unknown, it is foolish to assert that anything on a computer’s hard drive proves that a search took place before or after the crime. Time stamps are recorded to the drive when certain loggable events occur on a computer. The time is taken from the computer’s “memory” (read, little brain). The computer’s time is generated and “put” in its brain by chips with batteries. The battery can die. The user can change the time and date to any time and date he wants. An electrical engineer would know how to do this. Even I know how to do this.


In fact, I hope they have verified that the Entwistle computer (a laptop) wasn’t running on UK time. (They are seven hours ahead of us.) I have traveled internationally with a laptop, and I have changed my clock to correspond to local time at my destination long in advance of the trip. When I returned home, I have sometimes forgotten to change the time back. Alternatively, I know of people who retain U.S. time when they travel abroad. And then there’s the problem of Windows XP making time zone changes automatically when you take your computer into a new time zone and get on the internet (because Windows checks the “atomic” clock frequently). A knowledgeable user watches out for this and tries to reset the time to a time he wants to use.


I hope the jury doesn’t fall for the emotional impact of this computer forensics “evidence.” Whether or not Entwistle is guilty, nothing he did on the computer does anything but paint a portrait of an unemployed, new father who for some reason was interested in ways to do himself in (or maybe was just curious about suicide–I have also searched for such information).


In my opinion, the worst abuse of computer forensics was in the Scott Peterson trial when an expert testified that he could tell the difference between the defendant’s keystrokes and the victim’s keystrokes when using the computer. I hope I misheard this, or misremembered it. This is such hogwash, it doesn’t even bear commenting on.


I wish someone would challenge the use of this kind of evidence in court, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. And I definitely hope there’s an engineer on the Entwistle jury.

Maybe Neil Entwistle was Writing a Mystery Novel?

Apparently Neil Entwistle searched the web shortly before his wife and baby were found shot to death for “quick suicide methods” (or the like) and “knife in neck kill.” It sent shivers down my spine to hear this, but not for the usual reason. My primary method of research for my mystery stories is to use Google. Any computer forensics expert examining my hard drive would find the following searches from the past few weeks: fast-acting poison, polypropylene glycol, how long does it take to bleed to death from a head wound, derringers, bullet caliber, murder statistics, homocide statistics, and much, much more. So, if someone near and dear to me (or not so dear, but certainly near) were to be found dead, would I be the prime suspect?


I have a great deal to say about computer forensics analysis of search records, but I need some spare time to write it. I know a fair amount about computers (I’ve written two technology books), and I truly believe this is a junk science as it is practiced in murder prosecutions.

Juror Ethics: Reality Check–Ventura County Juror

I just came across this article about a juror who blogged during the trial in the Ventura County Star.

When held in contempt by the judge, he (the foreman) claimed he didn’t think blogging was the same as discussing the case before the verdict is in. Such a person should have his “blogging license” revoked. I hope that at least the contempt charge will revoke his license to serve on future juries.


The judge apparently decided not to declare a mistrial, because supposedly he was convinced the defendant got a fair trial despite this clear case of juror misconduct. (Of course, we all know that no judge wants to declare a mistrial, for fear the voters will fire him in the next election.)


I found this article just in the nick of time. I was on the verge of putting Google Ads on my blog. But this article reminded me that I think it’s unethical for jurors to write books about their jury experiences, such as in high-profile cases. It seems to me that judges, prosecutors, and jurors should have the same constraints as a convict does and should not be permitted to make a profit off the trials in which they participate. And, since this blog is inspired by my own jury exprience, I really shouldn’t be making money from it, either. 

What Jurors Think about Human Behavior: Entwistle Trial

I’ve watched a bit of the trial of Neil Entwistle (MA dad accused of shooting wife and infant daughter), and I’m struck by the odd reactions of some of the TrueTV (previously CourtTV) commentators and viewers toward the defendant. It reminds me first of the trial of the nanny, Louise Woodward, who was also British; it reminds me second of the trial of Scott Peterson.

1. Why do legal commentators always think they know “what jurors expect” of a defendant’s behavior in the courtroom?
 
Lawyers aren’t psychologists. Even psychiatrists aren’t psychologists. Trial lawyers do have experience observing human behavior under great stress, however. I grant them that. Unfortunately, most of the stressed-out defendants they’ve observed are guilty of something, and so they seem to extrapolate from the stressed-out behavior of guilty parties to the stressed-out behavior of people who may just feel guilty about something, or who may just be innocent and feeling helpless to prove it.

Jurors aren’t like lawyers. We don’t think, feel, or behave like lawyers. Jurors understand that different people react differently. Whether or not a defendant smiles nervously, has a hardwired, pleasant expression, or the sad jowls of a hound dog, cries, weeps, sighs, looks deadpan, looks tired, looks well-fed, looks starved . . . is irrelevant. (I could tell you a tale from my jury, but will spare you for now.)

Yesterday, people were debating whether or not the camera-angle on Entwistle’s face revealed him laughing, smiling, and giggling at the video of the crime scene. This is outrageous. A face in profile is different from a face seen head on. A grimace of extreme pain is not a grin. I’m sure the jurors never once imagined Neil Entwistle was grinning.

Other people faulted Entwistle for daring to look at the video. But had he refused to look at it, they would have said that was a sign of guilt. The issue of whether or not an intimate of a crime victim is willing to look at photographs of the violence has nothing to do with the person’s guilt or innocence. It has to do with what the person needs at that moment. Does he need closure? Does he need to know what really happened? Does he need to know what he’s being accused of?

I’m also sure that jurors would never impute guilt to a defendant because he did or did not look at crime-scene photos. Any juror who has ever had to look at a wounded loved one or to identify a body knows that you do feel as if you HAVE TO LOOK. Some people are squeamish and can’t look, but they feel awful when they can’t look. Some people look and break down. Some people look and can’t stop looking. Some people look without any apparent emotion, because they are in shock. The only person who could look at a murder victim and smile, in my opinion, would be the stranger-murderer, like the BTK Killer.

I’ve thought about this a great deal, not only because I’ve been a juror (and one who was deprived of most opportunities to see the defendant), but also because I’ve seen loved-ones in incredible physical distress and had to stay with them and because I’m a fiction writer and I observe people carefully.

2. Why are British (or other foreign-born) defendants expected to behave like Americans?

Much is being made of Entwistle’s failure to dial 911. Much was made of Louise Woodward (the nanny) because she said she “popped” the baby onto the bed or some such. The British distress number is 112, I think. It certainly isn’t 911. Would you know what number to dial for help if you were in—say—Singapore? In Britain, they “pop around the corner,” “pop over to your house,” and “pop babies down” briefly but gently.

As for Entwistle’s fleeing to Great Britain, it seems explicable to me—not necessarily innocent, but certainly it’s understandable, whether or not he is guilty. If I were confronted with the possibility of being arrested for murder in a foreign country and I had a way of coming home to America before that happened (so that the foreign country would have to extradite me), you bet that’s what I would do. That way I would at least know that the foreign country would have to file for extradition from the U.S., and I would have at least a few rights and the chance to find a good lawyer.

3. Why are the legal community and the media never satisfied with any suspect’s or defendant’s behavior? (Rhetorical question)

I remember when the media thought that Scott Peterson was guilty before he was arrested, because he never seemed upset, smiled for the camera, and was willing to talk to them. I remember when little Jessica Lundsford’s father was assumed to be guilty because he wept and wouldn’t talk to the press. I remember that Dr. Sam Shepphard’s conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court because of excessive publicity and jury bias, as a result. In all three situations, the media chose a close family member to be tried in the press. I have confidence that the Entwistle jury will at least try to set aside their biases against husbands who kill their families and all the supposed statistics saying that women are most often murdered by their partners—try, not necessarily succeed. However, trying is more than most legal commentators seem capable of doing.

Why are there no juries in family court?

Why are cases that are brought in family court heard only by a judge? Many such cases are matters of life and death: juvenile murder suspects, spousal abuse (sometimes), child abuse and neglect (sometimes), custody matters, and highly contested divorces in which substantial property is at stake.

The answer can’t be that the courts are already overcrowded as it is. If that were the reason, then the civil courts would refuse to hear so many frivolous lawsuits.

I’m primarily interested in criminal law and, specifically, murder trials. However, the American system of family law appalls me. I really do think it’s a mystery.

Haq Trial: Deadlocked Jury in Seattle Trial

I just heard that the jury in the Haq murder trial (Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle) is deadlocked on 14 out of 15 counts. Already the press is second-guessing the jury. I’ve heard several theories about why they could not reach a first-degree-murder guilty verdict, including the suggestion that the prosecution made a mistake in not seeking the death penalty, because death-penalty-qualified juries are more prone to bring in guilty verdicts.

While that is an interesting suggestion (from a lawyer, no less), the real issue is something else, in my opinion. Has anyone ever studied high-profile verdicts to see whether the length of the trial affects the verdict? My guess, as a former juror, is that the longer between the opening statements and the closing arguments, the less effective prosecution cases become. The KISS rule comes into play after about two weeks (my guess, again).  This is a rhetorical issue, not a matter of jury selection (which most commentators seem to think the Haq jury reflects). The Haq trial began in April.

In other words, a prosecution case for murder (whether death penalty or not) must be impactful, especially in a situation like this in which the defendant has a history of mental disorders. The longer the prosecution drags out their case, the more it seems to jurors that they don’t really have a good case for intent. Jurors don’t want to be bludgeoned with repetitive details or witness after witness to the same things. You can see this in the O. J. Simpson trial, the Michael Jackson trial, and the Phil Spector trial. (What happened in the Scott Peterson trial, you ask? That’s another post altogether. Perhaps the defense needed to present an equally tedious case.)

In the Haq trial, what did the defense present after the excessive prosecution? A tearful mother and sympathetic mental-health professionals. And they did it in rather short order, at that. The shorter an innocent-by-reason-of-insanity case is, the more effective. I bet the mother had them at her first anguished statement.

I say this even though I feel that a terrorist attacker should be found guilty of murder, even if he’s mentally ill. Why? All terrorists are mentally ill. Anyone who seeks to alter their environment by mass murder is not sane. I see no difference between Haq and any other terrorist–except that Haq’s mother who loves her son is an American. And I have nothing but compassion and pity for her.

The blame for this deadlocked jury lies with the excessively long, and therefore ineffective, prosecution case.