Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Trials of Christian Longo

The Trial

Christian Longo's murder trial began March 10, 2003. His amazing defense: his wife was the one who had the breakdown. She killed the two older children, throwing them off the bridge, then tried to smother Madison, but didn't complete the job. In a fit of rage, Longo murdered his wife, and then completed the job on the 2-year old, either to keep her from living a traumatic life, having seen her siblings murdered in cold blood, or to keep her from living a brain damaged life, having been half-strangled to death by her mother, it was never clear. Regardless, an odd defense, to be sure.

Christian Longo, profile
Christian Longo, profile

The prosecution contended that Longo thought his family was in his way and killed them to enjoy a more uninhibited, free-spending lifestyle than was favored by his careful, conservative Jehovah's Witness church. They presented a witness who saw a red minivan stopped on the Lint Slough bridge at about 4:30 a.m. on December 17. The witness spoke with the lone male occupant, to see if he needed assistance. The man said that he did not, and the witness went on his way.

Longo's court-appointed public defenders made no opening statement. Christian's testimony on the stand was his defense. According to The Oregonian, Longo said he wanted to "be on the stand for as long as possible to be able to air what needed to be aired, to be able to tell, unfortunately, what took place." He was in charge. His attorneys, it seemed, helplessly sat by to watch him hang himself.

His four-day testimony included his determination to never ask for money of family members, due to pride. "Pride has always been an issue for me," he said.

According to The Oregonian, Longo appeared relaxed and spoke easily, frequently smiling and occasionally laughing slightly in recounting his life through the birth of his third child, Madison. And then the testimony turned dark.

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