'Troubling lack of forensic evidence', lawyer
A defence lawyer asked the jury in the Norris Simpson murder case: “Would you be willing to risk your life savings on a guilty verdict on this evidence?”
According to the lawyer, Craig Attridge, the evidence produced by prosecutors is not strong enough that the jury can feel sure Mr Simpson is guilty of killing Ida James, 66.
It is only if the jurors feel sure of Mr Simpson's guilt that they can return a guilty verdict, he explained during his closing speech to them yesterday.
Mr Simpson, 54, is alleged to have murdered his landlady, at her Paget home sometime during the night of September 1, 2011. The victim was found in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor, having been stabbed 60 times.
Mr Simpson denies murder. However, prosecutors have called evidence during his Supreme Court trial that a fragment of Ms James' flesh was found on a baseball cap seized during a police search of his bedroom. The victim's DNA was also found under his fingernails.
Mr Simpson also had a cut to one of his fingers which, it is alleged, he sustained during the attack.
The jury has also heard of a letter that Ms James sent Mr Simpson in May 2011 complaining that he owed her money for the bedroom he rented from her at a home on North Shore Road, Pembroke.
Further evidence has been called from police officers who found more than $10,000 in cash scattered around Ms James' home after her death. The jury has heard she was a “hoarder” and the house, on Berry Hill Road, Paget, was very untidy.
Director of Public Prosecutions Rory Field has alleged that Mr Simpson may have become angry with Ms James because she was chasing him for money — leading to the killing.
He accused the defendant of giving contradictory and untruthful evidence during his two days in the witness box.
Mr Simpson insisted he was at home watching movies on the night Ms James was killed. He told the jury he cut his finger jumping down from a truck.
Mr Attridge said yesterday: “Mr Simpson is a simple uncomplicated manual labourer. He was cross-examined by [Mr Field], a lawyer who has more than 30 years of experience of asking questions. He remained unshaken about his whereabouts on the night in question.”
The lawyer pointed out that the police seized a large number of exhibits and forensic examples during the investigation. Yet, he said, there was a “troubling” lack of any other forensic evidence in the case.
“The whole case comes down to two pieces of evidence — fatty tissue on the cap and DNA under the fingernails,” he noted.
Mr Attridge said experts were unable to tell the jury how the tissue got onto the cap, and could not rule out Ms James' DNA getting under Mr Simpson's “long and dirty fingernails” through “normal everyday contact” with her.
The court has head Mr Simpson did maintenance work for Ms James, who owned several properties.
The lawyer also pointed out that despite the large amount of blood at the murder scene, none was found in Mr Simpson's bedroom or on his clothing.
Mr Attridge repeatedly reminded the jury that they must be certain Mr Simpson is guilty before they can convict him.
“It's not enough for you to just think Norris Simpson is guilty. It's not enough to believe he's guilty. You must be sure, and that's a very high standard, and nothing else will do,” he stressed.
Mr Simpson denies murder, and the case continues.