Just before the Court came into session, Luis Aguirre turned toward the back of the small courtroom and was grinning/laughing with some acquaintances or family members who came today and were sitting behind him: just next to me: an older man and three young women. This was a surreal moment as the accused had not to this point turned all the way around in the courtroom. His joviality seemed surreal. One of the women wore a camisole top which exposed some very colorful tattoos. I wonder if the man was the father of Luis Aguirre, for whom I've been told little Juan was named.
The judge gave the jury their instructions: "It is my duty to instruct you..." Judge Wilson reads the detailed instructions to the jury. They are to use their [combined 500] years of life experience to consider and weigh the evidence. The jury gets to decide how much weight and credence to give any piece of the evidence. (I always wish this was emphasized nationally more in sexual assault trials; that a sexual assault victim's testimony may be given great weight and perhaps result in more convictions)
The Jurors are meant to use common sense and life experience.
The charge of Capital Murder means that
- it was premeditated
- it was intentional
- the multiple murders were part of a common scheme or plan
At 9:30 the prosecution began its closing statement, which ended around 10:30. Barry Disney first validated the jury's probable anxiety. Those sorts of feelings are normal.
He told the jury he had heard the phrase,
told the jury he would show why Luis' statements deserved NO weight or credibility. He proceeded to tell the jury instance after instance of inconsistency and lies in the interview statements of the accused. He amplified the idea we have discussed here that Luis A. only admitted things when he had to, that his story changed over and over as needed. One of the points mentioned to show premeditation was how Luis picked Tanya and Juan up in the middle of the night from her the Olive Branch Mission, and kept his face hidden and his back to the door as she came out with her luggage-- A small piece of evidence but there were many of these small pieces. Disney mentioned the evidence that showed a plan on his part. For example, Luis A. sent Tanya emails about her going to California after he had already buried her body. "Who were they written for?" asked Barry Disney. (Obviously, for anyone looking to find out what had happened to her, to throw them off of his track.)
Mr. Disney emphasized the lies of the accused. [One witness, Luis' National Guard supervisor, Sgt. 1st class Brian Spencer, testified regarding Luis' responsibilites and whereabouts per his national guard service. He was asked a series of direct, yes or no questions: e.g., Was Luis Aguirre ever sent to South Korea? Was he ever active military/ Was he ever stationed in North Carolina? No. No. No. This in direct contradiction to Luis' statements to Tanya through numerous emails as to why he could not visit his son or assist in his support. The lies were ubiquitous.
Video of Luis Aguirre in the Courtroom
and detailed testimony -story from Lindsey Rogers at WIBW click HERE
Barry Disney used a technique known in Cognitive Psychology as useful for thinking, remembering, categorizing: Tell people what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you just told them. This is a good way to study and learn. For the jury, it emphasized that the murders were purposeful, that there was motive, that there was a plan, that the two murders were linked, that Luis Aguirre's testimony was so pocked with little lies, big lies, simple lies, complicated lies--that he was not to be believed.
Bits of video totalling 11 minutes were used throughout the Prosecution's closing.
Those friends/family of the accused who had joined the courtroom became very fidgety during the closing and as the details of the deaths and burial were reiterated, they began to weep.
Closing statement: The defense re-read some emails that they say indicated concern from the defendant. They tried to intimate that there was some recklessness, some passion involved in these deaths. They never really specified how. They stated that he had shown remorse, although i am not sure how other than their contention that the placement of the bodies indicated such.
Barry Wilkerson had the last word, just a few minutes to review key points and ask the jurors to grant the State's request for Capital Murder.
I head back downtown to wait to see if the verdict will come in this afternoon. My best guess is the jury will come back at 4:30. Maybe not.
-----[the jury came back around 3. Guilty of Capital Murder. Sentencing: July 9th.]
Day One click HERE
Day two: HERE
|Rest in Peace, Tanya and Juan Maldonado.|