Tuesday, January 19, 2016
At Adnan's trial, Jay gave the following testimony about the 7:09 P.M. call on Adnan's call log:
Urick When you pulled off and parked the vehicle, what if anything did you take back into the woods with you ?
Urick: About what time of night was this?
Jay: About 7:00 because, like I said, I had paged Jenn and while we were digging, she had called back [at 7:09], and he just told her he was busy now and hung up the phone. We dug for a little bit and he said that’s good enough. We took the shovels
Urick: What was the light like?
Jay: It was pretty dark but the moon was out, and I remember there was little bits of snow on the ground. So you could see a little bit. It wasn’t too bad.
You can use any number of webpages on the internet to establish that Jay's testimony can't be correct. For instance, Susan Simpson used timeanddate.com to establish that "moonrise was at 4:37 a.m. that night, and was a bare sliver, with around 10% illumination."
Of course, Cristina Gutierrez did no such thing to impeach Jay's testimony at trial, just like she didn't use similar information to establish that Coach Sye in all likelihood remembered that Adnan arrived on time at track practice on January 13, 1999. But what if Adnan's attorney were Abraham Lincoln?
Last night, we were hanging out with friends, and their kid delivered a book report of "Abraham Lincoln's Hat." The book mentions an incident that is seemingly true: There is a Norman Rockwell painting of Abraham Lincoln apparently holding a 1857 edition of the "The Old Farmer's Almanac."
The occasion depicted in the Rockwell painting is the 1858 murder trial of an Illinois man named William “Duff” Armstrong. Armstrong was accused of murdering James Preston Metzker with a “slung-shot”—a weight tied to a leather thong, sort of an early blackjack—a few minutes before midnight of August 29, 1857. Lincoln was a friend of the accused man’s father, Jack Armstrong, who’d just died, and so he offered to help defend young Duff Armstrong, without pay, as a favor to Jack Armstrong’s widow.
The principal prosecution witness against Armstrong was a man named Charles Allen, who testified that he’d seen the murder from about 150 feet away. When Lincoln asked Allen how he could tell it was Armstrong given that it was the middle of the night and he was a considerable distance away from the murder scene, Allen replied, “By the light of the Moon.”
Upon hearing Allen’s testimony, Lincoln produced a copy of the 1857 edition, turned to the two calendar pages for August, and showed the jury that not only was the moon in the first quarter but it was riding “low” on the horizon, about to set, at the precise time of the murder. There would not have been enough light for Allen to identify Armstrong or anyone else, said Lincoln. The jury agreed, and Duff Armstrong was acquitted.
So, what would have happened if Gutierrez had similarly shown Adnan's jury that the (bare) sliver of a moon didn't rise until 4:37 A.M. on January 14th, refuting Jay's claim that the moon was out at 7:09 P.M. on January 13th (or, as he now claims, "closer to midnight")? As with so many things that Gutierrez could have done in this case, we will never know.