14 November 2003

Sniper: Muhammad:

Here's a transcript of the prosecution's closing argument.
Defense attorney Peter Greenspun, meanwhile, told the jury that the commonwealth had presented a case based on speculation, suspicion and innuendo. There was no evidence that anyone saw from where the fatal shots came, Greenspun said

Instead, he suggested, prosecutors built their case around a theory - "a theme" suggested by a British sniper expert - and then tried to find ways to support it. Greenspun said the evidence really pointed to Malvo, who is on trial in Chesapeake.
Meanwhile a potential Brady violation comes to light (WARNING- inappropriate language):
The part of the Inspector General's investigation dealing with Bender [the prosecution's ATF expert] followed up on a 1991-1992 FBI probe of Bender and his co-worker at the FBI lab, agent Terry Rudolph. Both investigations stemmed from allegations made by FBI agent Frederic Whitehurst, who succeeded Rudolph at the lab. Whitehurst accused Rudolph and Bender of being racists whose biases negatively affected their work product.

According to FBI documents obtained by CNN, Whitehurst told investigators in 1990 that "both Rudolph and Bender continually and loudly expressed strong racial prejudice using such words as 'jungle bunnies' and 'niggers' repeatedly" in his presence.
You assume the prosecutor didn't know but that's not enough to absolve him from responsibility; prosecutors are held to a higher standard of assumed "knowledge" when it comes to their agents to discourage willful blindness. Often it's not the prosecutor's fault (how many experts or agents are going to pull the prosecutor aside and say "Just thought you should know, I'm a racist jerk"?) but it is a habeus waiting to happen.

As an aside, "U.S Rep. Ed Schrock, R-Virginia Beach, said he feels confident that he can get federal and state funds to reimburse the city for part of the trial’s expenses." That would be a neat trick. One suspects that local revenue went up significantly as news people and others thronged to the site of the trial filling hotels and restaurants and buying all sorts of sundry items. Now if he can just get the feds to pay for it all.

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