Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Prosecution's Theory

We felt confident that the prosecution at Todd's trial would not be able to show how Todd could have possibly stabbed Anthony Madril. After all, Todd had never gone forward of the pickup truck in front of which Anthony Madril and Brad Orgill fought so violently. Todd had been engaged non-violently with Madril's friend Chisum Lopez the whole time.

Both Lopez and Madril's other friend Chas Schwartz placed Todd at a considerable distance from Orgill and Madril as Madril shouted "It's on!" Madril and Orgil were the only two seen in a physical confrontation. When that confrontation was over, Madril emerged bleeding from his chest and told his buddies, "I've just been stabbed."

The prosecution presented their entire case--nearly two weeks of testimony--and never once did they specify exactly when or how the stabbing took place. Not until their closing argument, after the defense had rested, did prosecutor Stephanie Rikeman reveal their fabulous theory:

Todd runs up to Madril, a meeting that is unseen by any of the six witnesses, and stabs him in the heart, tearing open both ventricles. Madril then goes off to fight enthusiastically with Orgill and Todd goes on to a non-violent confrontation with Lopez.

That the prosecution waited until the closing argument to voice this theory can only suggest that they didn't want anyone to think about it for too long. Beyond the obvious question of one's ability and interest in engaging with a second person after just being stabbed in the heart, the prosecution's theory also raises many other questions:
  1. Why would Madril yell "It's on" instead of announcing that he'd been stabbed?
  2. Why didn't anyone see this confrontation? Did six other young men find something else more interesting to watch?
  3. Why would a person suddenly stab someone in the heart and then just put the knife away and limit himself to verbal jousting?
  4. Why would Todd not have blood transferred to his clothing--especially to his pockets where he kept the knife?
  5. Why does the trail of Madril's blood begin and end with the trajectory of his confrontation with Orgill?
  6. Why was Todd never seen in the area that contains the trail of Madril's blood?

Because the prosecution's theory came so late in the trial, it became even more important that the defense be accorded an opportunity to have a fully-developed theory of defense instruction for the jury.

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