Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Laurie Show

Judge Stengel's Version of the Story

Little wonder, then, that Judge Stengel's verdict was so different from Judge Dalzell's. He decided against Michelle, setting out his thoughts in a lengthy, scathing opinion paper. If Dalzell's sympathy for Michelle was bewildering and highly questionable, Stengel's mockery of her defense was almost as shocking.

Here's how he countered some of Dalzell's major points:

  • The river-born shoe that Rainville suggested prosecutors were hiding was half-rotted and apparently had been at the mercy of the elements for several years. Police ignored it because it was obviously not the shoe they were looking for. Similarly, a bag the defense argued was wrongly overlooked was ignored because it was a stray trash bag and not relevant to the case.
  • Additional photos that ostensibly supported Michelle's story would not have changed the outcome of the trial.
  • Regarding the allegedly swapped sweatpants with blood evidence, Stengel simply declared that it would be "silly" to try such a ruse, and that the size question could easily have been settled by having Michelle try them on. A small amount of blood, experts said, would likely have deteriorated over time.
  • Experts didn't agree with each other as to the extent of Laurie's wounds and the likelihood of her being able to name her killer. If nothing else, she may have been able to mouth the killer's name before dieing, and her mother could have understood.

Judge Anita Brody
Judge Anita Brody

Furthermore, Michelle's alleged gang-rape by East Lampeter Township police was not connected to a cover-up or set-up by police. The first officer on scene, if he even knew about such a rape, could not have spontaneously come up with and enacted a plan to eliminate Michelle.

Federal Judge Anita Brody agreed with Stengel and upheld his decision, but the damage had been done, and it wasn't just the Show family that Michelle had destroyed.


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