So says a (finally) sober mainstream media article in Time.
And while I agreed with Judge Perry’s decision not to toss the case on a TOD motion, I have to say that if the defense presents evidence of a viable alternative explanation for the prosecution’s evidence – which shouldn’t be too difficult – then he should grant a motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the defense case. There would be no point letting the jury decide anything then, because no reasonable jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
He won’t, of course. That is an outcome that will satisfy no one. It is not an exoneration of the defendant, and the braying mob will be livid, suddenly turning on the Judge they have loved so dearly up to this point. That in itself, by the way, is proof of how biased he has been: all the people who want to see the defendant hang love him.
The system doesn’t work as it should. Almost never, anyway. If Judge Perry did that, it would be one of those rare occasions where it did work, because I’m telling you that if there is any – any – competent proof of some alternative it should be game over for the prosecution here. And, in most places (I don’t know about Florida) a judgment of acquittal on that basis would not be appealable by the prosecution.
Let’s face it: they’re trying to convict this person of intentional murder and sentence her to death, but there is no proof, and nobody knows, exactly where, when or how the victim died except by the most generous inferences you can possibly give the prosecution. It is not reasonable to do that if there is some other inference supported by evidence, when a guilty verdict has to be beyond a reasonable doubt.
The problem for the defense is that you only get to ask the judge to do that after you rest. Unless procedures are different in Fla. than what I am used to, you can’t put in a little proof, make the motion, and if it’s denied go back and put in more proof. You have to rest your case and take your chances. If the motion is denied then – as is the overwhelming likelihood – then it goes to the jury with the proof you have put in. So you have prove everything you think the jury should know in case they get the case, even if you don’t think they should.
Tough job, this trial lawyering.