Sunday, October 24, 2010

And justice for all

I am writing this entry last Thursday, so by now, the verdict in this case might very well have come back.  Just wanted you to know that's where things stand as I type this: the jury has deliberated for 2 ½ days  and is still out. 

The case involves a man and his wife from here in our county.  They married but it didn't work out.  Everyone said they argued all the time, and, in fact, at the trial all sorts of audio tapes have been played by the prosecution, recordings of arguments on the phone between the two.  (Her employer records all phone lines.) 

She is missing, and has been for many years: five, I think.  She was last seen on video leaving a drugstore, on the way to a Mötley Crüe concert down near DC. Her car was found in a motel parking lot on the way to DC. Not a trace of her since.  Her family blames the husband, and there is reason to believe that he was not the greatest husband in the world.

But he is on trial now, and the charge is not "Failure to be the greatest husband in the world."  The charge is murder, and for the first time, our county is prosecuting someone for a murder in which no one can prove at all that a murder took place. 

The trial has been interesting. It turns out that the wife had taken up with another guy during the course of the marriage, which was a point of contention between her and her husband.  The guy she was seeing turned up dead from an overdose earlier this year.  No one is accusing the husband of being involved in that death, but they are trying him for a crime that no one can say really happened.

I wonder how this defense would work out, for the attorney for the husband to say, "Prove that she's not in California! Or Hong Kong, Baluchistan or Nome!" I just don't know how to punish someone for something that maybe no one did. 

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