Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Biloxi Confidential

The Defense Blunders

Attorneys for the defense could have rested their case after LaRa's testimony, thus leaving it to the jury to weigh the conflicting testimony they had before them. But, in their zealous determination to clear their clients of suspicion for the murders charges not yet brought against them they allowed the state to introduce witnesses and testimony that would not otherwise have been admissible.

Brett Robertson, the neighbor of the Sherrys who had originally told investigators he had seen the getaway car and who gave a description of the driver, was called to the stand by the defense. Robertson repeated his earlier description of the driver resembling Biloxi detective Ric Kirk. This suggested the driver of the car wasn't John Ransom. However, Kirk had long been cleared of suspicion, although the jury didn't know it.

Then, on the stand, Robertson added a detail that had not been part of his original report, though he had later reported it. He had had a friend named Mark Lamey with him at his house around the time of the murders, and Lamey testified that he had seen a second man in the Sherrys' yard. The description of the second man didn't match that of Ransom, either.

Now the prosecution was free to introduce witnesses and testimony that, previously, would have been beyond the scope of the charges. A police evidence technician was brought in who vouched that someone had tampered with the stolen Ford Fairlane. Then they brought forth a witness who claimed he saw Lenny Swetman, a Dixie Mafia operative and close friend of Gillich's, tampering with the ignition on the 1975 Oldsmobile whose license plates was the one found on the Ford, presumably attempting to steal the car.

Then testimony was given by Randy Cook and a former FBI agent named Ed O'Neill, both of whom brought out discrepancies in the descriptions given by Robertson and Lamey. Although nothing was proven by the additional testimony further incriminating the defendants, the additional testimony did weaken the defense's case. By introducing witnesses whose testimony was refuted in court and opening the door for the state to produce additional witnesses of its own, the defense had undermined its own credibility, a fact not lost on the twelve jurors.



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