04 September 2003

Fishing for a motive.

In the NC Peterson case the prosecution has two deaths which are eerily similar and which do not seem to fit into the area of accidental death (although the older one was so ruled to be). This is the strength of its case.

The weakness? Neither of the motives offered seems to fit and there is no direct evidence that Michael Peterson was influenced by either. The Defense pretty much ruptured the money motive and there is no proof that the wife knew anything about the homosexual stuff.

I'll be real interested to see if the Defense allows Peterson to testify. It's a closer call than I'd like to have to make. I'm convinced - as I think that anyone who works in a court is - that no matter how many times you tell a jury that they cannot take a failure to testify into account they always do; he might have to testify in order to be found not guilty. He probably doesn't have any prior record so the normal reason for not testifying isn't present in this case. On the other hand, if you put him on the stand he'd better be able to answer every little question about the prior, non-prosecuted event (e.g. How do did you know it was an aneurism, Mr. Peterson?). He also is probably the only way that the prosecutor can make one of its motives stick; getting him to talk a lot about the money situation and the homosexual matters - whether he admits to anything damning or not - is likely to more closely associate these matters to him in the minds of the jurors.

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