CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Missing Man Looms Large in Murder Trial"

The New York Times has this interesting piece on a murder trial in New Haven, discussing the defense strategy of suggesting at the guilt phase that an accomplice is more culpable in hopes of affecting the jury's penalty recommendation:

Putting Mr. Komisarjevsky figuratively on trial, lawyers with experience in capital cases say, is unlikely to have much effect in this first phase of Mr. Hayes’s trial to determine whether he is to be convicted of the crime. But it is a common defense strategy to plant seeds for a potential second phase of the trial that would determine whether he will be sentenced to death.

If there is a second phase, the jurors will have already heard Mr. Hayes’s version, however credible, that the crime would not have occurred without Mr. Komisarjevsky. While Mr. Hayes was out of the house, his lawyer Mr. Ullmann told the jurors, Mr. Komisarjevsky’s assault of Michaela “changed the scenario.”

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