Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Fletcher: A Simple Case of Murder

Testimony

Again, Fletcher's trial differed from many other murder trials because prosecutors used little hard forensic evidence and relied instead on witness testimony. Their witness list contained 50 possible witnesses, and Legghio's defense list contained nine more.

"We're confident that we'll be able to meet our burden without the seized materials by relying on witness testimony," said prosecutor Lisa Ortlieb in a hearing prior to the trial.

One of the first to testify was Detective Tom Cleyman. He repeated his Jackie Kennedy observation.

"Jackie Kennedy was in a pink business suit and was just head to toe in blood from trying to save her husband," he said. "When I saw Michael Fletcher after his lovely wife died, he had no blood on him, and I had a big problem with that."

When Susan Chrzanowski testified, Townsend took her step-by-step through her on-again, off-again relationship with Fletcher.

Susan Chzranowski testifying
Susan Chzranowski testifying

"As things deteriorated in my marriage, he was a very good friend," she said, her voice wavering somewhat. "He expressed his love for me quite often and said the relationship we had was the kind married people should have."

She admitted that she expected Mick and Leann to divorce, and was frustrated by his inability to leave.

"I didn't like it," she said. "But I believed him when he said it was not about working on the marriage. He said he wanted to be with Hannah and get Leann to realize the marriage was hopeless."

Chrzanowski and Fletcher never made eye contact during her testimony and she left the courtroom after she finished and never looked back.

Mick did not take the stand in his defense during the three-week trial and Legghio continued his strategy of trying to introduce reasonable doubt into the jurors' minds. He succeeded in getting a Hazel Park police woman to demonstrate that it was possible that Leann could have pointed the gun at her head and pulled the trigger using her thumb, and on the last day of testimony, surprised courtroom observers by pointing out that small bloodstains on the butt of the pistol couldn't have been there if Mick had been holding the gun in its proper position.

Summations took a full day, with both sides using equal amounts of courtroom theatrics and rhetoric and rehashed evidence.

"Each piece of evidence is sufficient to convict this man," said Gregory Townsend. "Leann Fletcher did not shoot herself. It wouldn't happen. Give him what he worked for. Give him what he earned. Give him a conviction of first-degree murder."

The jury, after receiving instructions from Judge Cooper, retired to deliberate on a Monday afternoon.

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