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Closing Argument in Trial of Boys Charged With Killing Father

Aired September 5, 2002 - 14:08   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to take you now live to Pensacola, Florida. Closing arguments in the murder trial that has captured America's tension, of the two young boys charged with killing their father. Right now, James Stokes speaking to jurors.

JAMES STOKES, ALEX KING'S ATTORNEY: What I would first like to draw your attention to is other evidence and other nonevidence that has come out. And we can start with the medical examiner. And the medical examiner said this: The medical examiner said that in order for Terry King to have been in that position, he had to be instantly killed by the first blow. And he said -- the medical examiner said -- that this first blow would have produced blood.

The medical examiner also said that that would have had to have killed him instantly.

You saw the pictures, and you will get to take them back, of Terry King's body and the position in which it was found. And you saw the cup of coffee, and you will get to see that in detail in these pictures. You will see the cup of coffee that is resting so neatly next to his leg.

And you heard the medical examiner say that those bruises to his chest were be not consistent with having been incurred first, because if they were incurred first, then Terry King would have awakened, Terry King would have reacted in some way, and that cup of coffee would have been spilled.

You heard testimony from a great number of state witnesses, and I would like to point out to you that what we do not do is give you a transcript of this file. You have seen transcripts. Some of them you got to read through. That is not what you get when you become a jury member, because one of the duties, and it is the duty that the judge is going to instruct you on, one of your duties is to judge the credibility of witnesses. And he will tell you that you are to examine witnesses, their demeanor on the stand, to see if they were forthright and forthcoming with evidence.

And I will ask you to address the testimony of Jan Johnson (ph), the blood splatter expert, who said in response to a question by Dennis Porter (ph), that she could recognize that the can of paint thinner, because it still had some of the writing left on it. But then we heard from two fire marshals, or two fire investigators. Both of them told you they had examined the same can, and there was no writing on it. Jan Johnson (ph) is the same person who told you if in response to the state's question, that it would be conceivable, possible that there would be no blood splatter on that person.

That was her testimony on direct; but on cross, she had to admit, with the blood on the lamp, the blood on the wall, the blood on the ceiling, the blood twelve feet away, against another wall, that it is most likely that the person who inflicted those blows to Terry King would have been splattered with blood. And then on cross, she admitted that although in one of the later versions -- we don't know which one of the nine stories we heard from investigator Sanderson -- that there were nine different stories that Ricky Chavis told concerning this -- that the latest and greatest version that he is telling has the boys, within minutes of having done this, crawl across the backseat of Chavis's car and crawl into the trunk. And yet, there was not one strand of DNA found in that trunk.

There was not one piece of evidence, physical evidence, that was found in there. You heard, initially, that there was some type of accelerant found on the boy's shoes, but then later, what did we hear? Later, what we heard was that accelerant does not match, is not the accelerant that was used to set fire to that house. And you can watch the way someone testifies: Were they forthcoming; did they give the information?

And I will bring up another example: Detective Sanderson, when I pointed out to him that you could have taken these boys out after you put the quarter in the slot and you got the statement that Ricky Chavis wanted them to make. After you got that information, were you concerned of some of the facts? And he said yes. He said yes, he was concerned about some of the facts.

And I asked him, couldn't you have questioned the boys further? And his reply, under oath, was, No, I couldn't because they had been booked, but we didn't stop there, did we? I asked this investigator, Isn't that incorrect? You are the one who booked them. And he said yes. And I said, Isn't it true, that you could have cross-examined these boys, you could have separated them. You could have gotten to the truth on that night? You could have cross-examined them until the cows come home or until they said, I want my attorney. And he had to say yes.

So his answer to you that he couldn't have done that because he had booked them, you can consider that. Was that witness being forthcoming? Was he trying to tell you everything?

Let's consider some other things about Detective Sanderson: He said that he was, in fact, the lead investigator on this case. He was the lead investigator on this case. Yet when I asked him if he knew that there was child pornography on Ricky Chavis's computer, he said no, he was unaware of that fact. He was unaware of the fact. And then you heard testimony from the Duwitski (ph), Inspector Duwitski (ph), also with the sheriff's department, who said, Yes, I took that back. I'd looked at that, and there was child pornography on that computer.

We know -- we know through Jan Johnson (ph) that Ricky Chavis had a picture of my client taken when he was 12 years old or less. He had that picture taped to the mirror headboard of his bed. We know that Ricky Chavis destroyed evidence, and we know that there was evidence that was not found by the sheriff's department, because we had his brother come in here and testify, Mike Chavis -- Mike Chavis testified that there was indeed a trap door.

PHILLIPS: Live pictures from Pensacola, Florida, as closing arguments have begun in the murder of trial that has definitely captured America's attention. We are talking about the trial of two young boys charged with killing their father. It is a case involving claims of child molestation, drug use, a number of secrets, and changing testimony on a regular basis.

You are listening to James Stokes, Alex King's attorney. He's a defense attorney for one of the young boys involved in this case, trying to convince jurors that his clients are innocent.

We're going to bring in legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He has been listening also to what has taken place so far.

What do you think of how Stokes is doing right now in closing arguments -- Jeffrey? When we dipped in, he started talking about the medical examiner's reports and the blood experts and also the nine different stories, he says, from Ricky Chavis, the other man involved in the twisted story?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Kyra, I don't think anyone would call him a spellbinding orator, but he is raising important issues in the case. He is talking about evidence that is not there, evidence that if the prosecution's theory were true, you would expect to see -- most importantly, at the beginning of the summation. He is talking about the absence of any blood on his client, Alex King, that if, in fact, he had beaten his father with a baseball bat, the experts said there probably would have been blood all around and there was no blood found on the boy.

Also, another piece of evidence that he is disputing is the shoes. The prosecution claimed that the substance found on the boy's shoes matched the paint thinner that was used as the accelerant to start the fire in the house that was started after Mr. King was killed. He is saying that that, in fact, was no match there.

What is particularly interesting, Kyra, what is not being said in this summation because of a legal ruling by the judge earlier this morning. The judge said that the defense could not quote from the summations in the first trial in this case. Remember, as I think probably many of our viewers know, Ricky Chavis, the so-called friend of the boys was tried for this very murder last week. The defense understandably wanted to quote from the prosecution's summation in that case, saying, Look, they thought the other guy was guilty last week. But the judge that is not evidence in this case and you can't quote it. So he is not quoting it now.

PHILLIPS: All right. our legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Thanks for your insight. We are going to continue to follow these closing arguments.





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