NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Melanie McGuire was a woman betrayed by the men who loved her, hounded by law enforcement authorities, and physically incapable of committing the crime she's accused of, her lawyer argued Monday.
Closing arguments began Monday in the six-week long trial of a New Jersey woman accused of drugging and shooting her husband before dismembering his body and throwing it into the Chesapeake Bay in three suitcases that washed up in May 2004.
"There is no proof that Melanie McGuire murdered her husband," said Joseph Tacopina, one of the 34-year-old's defense attorneys. "This case is a result of a tragic rush to judgment. They saw what they wanted to see. They heard what they wanted to hear."
The prosecution argues McGuire killed her husband so she could have a more serious relationship with her lover, Dr. Bradley Miller, her boss at the Morristown fertility clinic where the two worked. The affair began in 2002 when McGuire was 9-months pregnant with her second child.
The prosecution also points to Internet searches made from McGuire's Woodbridge home computer on such topics as gun laws and ways to kill people, in addition to the fact that she purchased a gun days before her husband disappeared.
During his closing arguments, Tacopina said the petite McGuire was physically unable to kill her husband — who at 6'3" weighed 210 pounds.
The prosecution has said Melanie McGuire most likely had help in carrying out her crime, but authorities have not named an accomplice or charged anyone else.
Tacopina pointed to testimony from the state's forensic expert. The expert said that despite combing the couple's apartment on numerous occasions, investigators found no blood or marks from the reciprocating saw prosecutors say she used to cut him up.
"If you're going to dismember someone in a porcelain bathtub, you're going to leave some marks," Tacopina said.
Tacopina also pointed out what the defense has described as an "implausible" case, based on circumstantial evidence and said the prosecution was asking the jury to perform "mental gymnastics" by believing that McGuire was guilty.
The defense also highlighted the fact that two men close to Melanie McGuire — Miller and her friend James Finn — both cooperated with authorities to record their telephone conversations with McGuire.
Playing short snippets of the recordings that were played previously during the court proceedings, Tacopina told jurors that they were hearing Melanie McGuire at her "most vulnerable."
"Melanie was remarkably consistent throughout," Tacopina said. "She repeatedly said 'I didn't do it."'
McGuire's lawyers also painted a picture of William McGuire as a man with a heavy gambling problem who may have been killed by people to whom he owed money.
During his closing arguments, Tacopina said William McGuire liked gambling in Atlantic City and often took with him sums as large as $5,000, though he made $65,000 at his computer programmer job.
The trial was delayed for about an hour and a half due to a violent nor'easter that hit the region, flooding roads and creating havoc for many jurors and lawyers on their way to the courthouse.
After Tacopina finished his closing arguments, Judge Frederick DeVesa announced that the courthouse would be closing at 2 p.m. due to the storm; the prosecution will present their closing arguments Tuesday.