“Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence.”
“Objection! Asks the jury to prejudge the evidence. Your Honor, may we be seen at sidebar?”
Weinreb was at it again. Elena Graff was still on the stand.
The prosecution had just confirmed with Graff that no evidence collected from Boylston Street contained fingerprints that were a match to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Then comes the humorous statements:
Q: Now the bombs didn’t build themselves did they?
Q: The backpacks didn’t carry themselves onto the scene?
At this point we hear Watkins object. The court sustains on grounds it is argumentative. What they both don’t realize is Watkins is going somewhere with this. The objection was the correct response but the reason given was not. And remember, the reason came from the judge, not the attorney doing the objecting, which I find to be odd, since O’Toole never tried to help the defense at any point before.
If Watkins had objected for the three reasons I stated at the beginning of this post, I think he may have got somewhere. As it is, with the objection on grounds of being argumentative, Weinreb doesn’t miss a beat. It’s almost as if he expected the judge to say that. He goes right into his next strategically timed question:
Q: So what could explain the absence of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s fingerprints on more of these items?
Watkins: I’m going to object, your Honor.
The Court: Overruled. You may answer that.
This is as slick as it gets:
1. There is a presumption in that question that more of Dzhokhar & Tamerlan’s fingerprints should have been found on the items recovered from the blast scene because there is a presumption they are the guilty perpetrators who made the bombs. And remembering that so far, no prints on anything recovered from Boylston Street were a match to Dzhokhar’s prints, I guess Weinreb is asking why more fingerprints than none have been found… interesting.
This, in my untrained opinion, is not only assuming facts not in evidence (proof of guilt not yet being established) but also is a slick attempt to get the jury to prejudge Dzhokhar as guilty before offering substantial proof.
Watkins needed to abandon the schoolboy respect and vigorously object and give reasons – whether he was asked for them or not, then ask for a sidebar. Loudly.
How I wish the witness, Elena Graff, had responded to Weinreb’s question “So what could explain the absence of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar’s fingerprints on more of these items” this way:
A: Well, innocence, I guess. Maybe they didn’t do it. Maybe they didn’t build the bombs, maybe they didn’t carry them to the marathon after all. Maybe it wasn’t them…
I bet if she had started answering that way, Weinreb would have cut her off in a flat out panic. I would have enjoyed that moment immensely.
Another thing I find troubling was why cardboard and paper were so important that they were even picked up from the crime scene. I researched bombs today in preparation for writing this post. For anyone out there who follows my online activity, I have no interest in building one myself. Not now, now ever… Anyway, I found no type of bomb, smoke, pipe, pressure cooker or otherwise, that has paper and cardboard as its contents.
With the mess that Boylston Street must have been in after the bombs exploded, I wouldn’t think trained technicians would be interested in paper and cardboard. I would think they would be looking for fuses, lids, nails, anything metal. Stuff that bombs are typically made of. And cell phones.
And another thing: if a bomb that was so hot and full of fire upon explosion that it melted clothing and flesh, how would a piece of cardboard or paper have survived the blast if it truly was part of the bomb when it went off?
This whole thing about was it a piece of paper, was it a piece of cardboard ripped into two… it reminds me of other important stuff that came out at trial like: Is this Grozny or Mecca? Will Dzhokhar be able to see the scenery if he is sent to the ADX or will he not?
All these type of facts seem so trivial, so irrelevant to me. I have to wonder why time was wasted on them. I guess that’s what you bring up when you really have no case.
And if memory serves me well, didn’t someone take the stand at the beginning of the trial and give some long testimony as to the history of the Boston Marathon itself? If I am remembering correctly, what did that have to do with the crime that was committed there?
As much as I dislike the prosecution, I’ve got to hand it to Weinreb, who did a pretty masterful job during this portion of testimony. As much as I hate to say this, I kinda wish he played for our team.