blank'/> Liberally Lean From The Land Of Dairy Queen: The No Body Murder Case: An Update That Makes Me Crazy

5.16.2011

The No Body Murder Case: An Update That Makes Me Crazy


I subscribe to The Texas Prosecutor which is published "through legislative appropriation." The new issue hit my desk this morning and look what is on the cover: A self promoting article about The Denton No Body case written by the prosecutors. Did they start writing the article the second the trial was over?

From a quick glance at the article (and after getting past a subheading of "Dismantling The Defense" -- sheesh), I did learn the jury quickly sent out a note to the judge right after deliberations began asking for the definition of "reasonable doubt."  Well, there's at least some proof they had no idea what that meant.

At least the appeal has now been filed.

Edit: Someone asked how often a case gets reversed for insufficient evidence. The answer is "very, very rarely." Of all appealed cases, I bet there are no more than one or two a year reversed on that ground-- and that may be a high estimate.  The standard is a tough one: Even with the appellate court assuming that every piece of evidence the State wanted the jury to believe to be true was in fact true,  no rational jury could have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.   It takes a mind-boggling weak case to meet that criteria.

I once knew a prosecutor in the early 1990s who was ecstatic when his case was reversed for insufficient evidence because he believed it to be the ultimate compliment: "I was able to convince a jury to convict with legally insufficient evidence!" (Paraphrased: "I was able to do the impossible!")   I, on the other hand, considered it to be the ultimate slap in the face: If the case was so weak that  no rational jury could convict, then every prosecutor should have recognized that to begin with.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems like a place the budget could be cut.

Anonymous said...

Barry,
What are his chances? How often do appellate courts disagree with jury trial verdicts in cases of murder?
I was amazed he was found guilty at all given the lack of evidence.

Anonymous said...

So your stance is that murder is ok as long as you hide the body?

Tater Salad said...

"Justice" what a joke...

Anonymous said...

Don't know much about the facts of the Denton murder case. Jury asking for the definition of "beyond a reasonable doubt." Not unheard of as there is no legal definition that the court gives the jury in the charge. Therefore the jury is left to decide on their own with what was given to them by the defense and prosecution attorneys during voir dire.

Anonymous said...

Does any of y'all still wear High Karate aftershave?

Anonymous said...

9:56, did they prove he killed anyone? Yes, no body = no murder, put me on a jury!

Triple Fake... said...

Why are you so hung up on the need to have evidence for a conviction? You're gonna give lawyers a good name - which in lawyer world, would be a bad thing

And the jury asking for the definition of "reasonable doubt" presumes they didn't know what it meant before that. But assuming the judge gave them the legal definition of that phrase, one presumes they knew exactly what it meant afterwards

The old joke about a defendant having a valid claim of "He just needed killin', your Honor" should probably have a corresponding claim for the prosecution: "He just needed convictin', your Honor."

Anonymous said...

i ware high karete...wuts it to you?

Anonymous said...

Sic Em Barry!!! You should get all amped up on mountain dew and race up in that denton courthouse like some spider monkey looking for his next line to snort!!!

Anonymous said...

Besides you, who cares??

Anonymous said...

9:56...Clearly you missed the point, corpus dilecti is not only applied in the literal sense, as BG suggests it should be--that would make life fairly easy on serial killers. If there is clear evidence of a crime the absence of a body obviously is not an exemption from prosecution. Whether this particular case was with merit can be argued but that is the reason for due process.

It is sad to see that you would not even hear evidence if you were on a jury and just simply say "no body, no murder"!

Anonymous said...

There was no evidence...

Anonymous said...

In this case;
There was no body, it was not proven she was dead, and if she was dead it was not proven she was murdered. Seems like you would have to have reasonable doubt when it was not proven that someone was dead, much less murdered. I see the appeal being successful.

Anonymous said...

3:36...Yeah, she is alive, hanging with Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Bin Laden! What a joke, lady is dead, dude just did a good job of destroying evidence and hiding her body.

Why can't you people get past the fact that you do not need a body to prove death? It was proven she was dead since they convicted him...or maybe it was some conspiracy she cooked up to get back at him and she is really hiding in a million dollar compound in Abbott!

Anonymous said...

I wish I knew where Abbott was.

Anonymous said...

4:05, there are no words for you. The burden of proof is on the state, prove to me she is murdered, or even dead... Shut it!

Anonymous said...

4:05
3:36 here.
You don't have to have a body to convict but you have to have a body to prove death. If in this case there had been one shred of phycical evidence, traces of her blood, clothing, anything it would be different.
She drove out to his house and they found her car there, that was it.
One scenrio...she leaves, walks to the end of the driveway, gets in her boy friend's car and starts a new life somewhere else. She leaves her purse with her credit cards etc. and never uses anything that could trace to her. She has the satisfaction of knowing it looks like her husband kills her.
Far fetched?? Without a body it could be possible.
A jury said he killed her, that's not proof. You can't prove something is true by presenting the people who say it is.

Anonymous said...

damn theres alotta ppl that like to leave "war and peace" in the coments section...lol

Anonymous said...

I will bet you after he does five years and the judge tells him he would let him out if tells where she is SHE WILL BE FOUND!!

Anonymous said...

5:43...The burden of proof is on the state not me! Sounds to me they satisfied the jury that she is dead so I think justice has been done. I like how you threw "shut it!" in there at the end, funny chit man!

There have been many cases where death was proven without a body, happens all the time. Corpus dilecti is not required if there is sufficient evidence to prove death. That evidence can be circumstantial as long as it leads to the only conclusion that the person is dead, which in this case is clear. If the woman had a history of dissapearing then that could be introduced as evidence 8:09. This was not her lifestyle so the only conclusion to her dissapearance is that she is dead.

Anonymous said...

That's like the Texas case that says you can be convicted of felony cocaine even if the entire 0.05g is consumed in the single testing process.

Anonymous said...

Evidence has never been a requirement in Texas law.

Dallas has released 20 men out of 54 cases reviewed using DNA evidence.

Anonymous said...

"Corpus delicti" means the body of the CRIME, not the body of the victim.

Anonymous said...

This is Texas, land of the trailer dwellin, twinkie swillin, spinger watchin "Conservatives". We dont need no stinkin evidence.....

Anonymous said...

Where the hell was this jury in the casey anthony trial?

Anonymous said...

9:43, even imagining that this extremely baffling line of reasoning is true, that suddenly disappearing without ever having done so before means it was against her will (and therefore, presumably she was murdered), why assume the husband was at fault? Because you have no other possible suspects? Perhaps a lack of suspects is indicative of a lack of evidence. The poor woman could have been kidnapped, or freaking abducted by aliens. There are plenty of possible scenarios that would explain her disappearance, but without any proof one way or another, why focus on the husband angle?

Anonymous said...

This is Texas and I am proud that our juries usually like to find them guilty and hang up high. In this case with no body and and no proof of death, I hope he wins his appeal!
It is too bad Casey Anthony didn't have his jury. Don't know for sure if she killed Kaylee; but, she is certainly guilty of neglect, which may have caused her death. She should have lost her freedom to walk our streets and have another child. Bad seeds produce bad seeds.

Anonymous said...

And here I was thinkin corpus delecti was dessert at a fancy Italian restaurant