Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Desire Terrorist

Closing Arguments

Opening for the government, McCloskey accused Davis of taking it "upon himself to be judge, jury and executioner. He turned into a street killer that day. Mess with me and it's rock-a-bye-baby.'" McCloskey recited the chain of evidence that linked Davis to the other defendants and to the murder itself, replaying tapes at certain junctures for the jury's ears. For further emphasis, McCloskey held up the bleach-stained jeans Groves had been wearing at the time of her murder.

Sitting dry-eyed, stoic and solemn in the row in front of me during testimony was Groves' father, Nathaniel.  During closing arguments, however, I observed him crying into a blue-and-white handkerchief.

Masinter followed, trying desperately to plant doubt in the minds of the jury. He called Williams, Jackson and Larry Smith "government parrots with clipped wings and a golden parachute. They will say anything the government wants them to say in exchange for leniency." Masinter accused the FBI of "carelessness" in not being able to interpret the tapes' messages that a murder was about to be committed and he implied that the government was tailoring its evidence to fit the case they had built. Groves' cocaine habit and her fights with Jones were also mentioned in Masinter's closing argument.

In his closing argument, McGinity accused the FBI of "trying to prove a preconceived notion" and of "tunnel vision." He explained to the jury what the concept of "reasonable doubt" entails, calling it "a standard so high that doubt wouldn't let you go forward." He attempted to exploit the reasonable doubt issue by citing "inconclusive" test results on the weapon, spent bullet casings, and the time it would have taken Hardy to get to the crime scene, as well as attempting to torpedo Sammie Williams's credibility.

Closing on behalf of Causey, Julien passed around Causey's ID card to the jury, showing that it was processed on October 13, 1994 as Massey had testified. He also attempted to undermine the testimony of Williams and Jackson and portray Causey as an innocent victim, "not willing to lie" in exchange for a more lenient deal.

Attorney Mike McMahon
Attorney Mike McMahon

After opening with the statement that the Groves incident "should not have happened in the United States of America," McMahon accused the defense attorneys of "scrupulously avoid[ing] talking about those tapes. And, you know who else they didn't talk about?" At that point he held up the blown-up picture of Groves. "Forget about a government conspiracy," McMahon continued. "That may fly on the West Coast. It won't fly here," an obvious reference to the O.J. Simpson case that was making news at the same time in the Los Angeles area.

Addressing the issue of cocaine found in Groves' system, McMahon didn't attempt to downplay it. "Some people who are more affluent can go to the Betty Ford Clinic. She (Groves) had to deal with it (her addiction) every day. She had crack in her system. So what. Maybe it made her feel better and got her through the day easier."

McMahon also defended Williams's testimony, saying "He has no agreement with the government. He's looking at a life sentence" for his role in the distribution of 135 grams of cocaine. During his 50-minute closing argument, McMahon repeatedly played the most incriminating excerpts from the FBI tapes for the jury.

Following the final closing argument, Berrigan gave her instructions to the jury, cautioning them to "apply the law as it's explained to you; not follow your own opinion. Remember that defendants are innocent until proven guilty and only reasonable doubt is necessary." She also explained the difference between "direct" and "circumstantial" evidence and advised the jurors to exercise caution in accepting the testimony of those who entered into plea bargains with the government.

Categories
Advertisement