ELYRIA — A verdict in the aggravated murder trial of Patrick Griffin could be reached today.
Closing arguments from the prosecution and defense ended about noon Tuesday, but jurors told Common Pleas Judge Mark Betleski they needed more time when the he spoke to them about 4:30 p.m.
Griffin is accused of shooting Alberto “Cookie” Gutierrez and leaving him to bleed to death in a ditch along Pratt Road in Huntington Township on Thanksgiving Day 2009.
In his closing arguments, Griffin’s attorney, Kenneth Lieux, pointed to the lack of an established motive as one of the reasons his client should not be found guilty. The prosecution previously had contended that Griffin came after Gutierrez when Griffin suspected the victim of an earlier break-in in his apartment in which items were moved around but nothing was reported missing.
Lieux said the two men were friends as well as neighbors in a Lorain apartment building who drank together, worked on cars together and even cooked soup for each other.
“The state would have you believe that Patrick was so enraged at this supposed break-in with nothing missing that he’s going to go kill him over it,” Lieux said. “The lack of motive for Patrick to want Cookie dead screams out.”
Prosecutor Laura Dezort said in her rebuttal that perhaps something was taken that only Griffin knew and did not want to tell officers about.
Lieux also attempted to plant seeds of doubt in jurors regarding one of the prosecution’s most damning pieces of evidence: gunshot residue that a BCI investigator testified was found on the steering wheel of his red 1993 Cadillac, as well as on the front and back passenger seat and a black glove found inside the car.
Lieux said the BCI investigator also testified that gunshot residue can remain for days or weeks, meaning just because Griffin had some on his vehicle and glove doesn’t mean it was from Gutierrez’s slaying.
Lieux said prosecutors had only circumstantial evidence they were using to get jurors to infer his client was guilty. Dezort, meanwhile, said the evidence presented was staggering and charged that Lieux was the one trying to get jurors to make inferences, especially when he said that detectives should have tested more evidence at the scene.
The evidence against Griffin was so overwhelming, she said, that more evidence collection was unnecessary.
“What would that have given you more than what you already have?” she asked jurors.
Dezort also pointed out that Lieux had no explanation for two key pieces of their case: several lies that Griffin told investigators and Gutierrez’s family, including that he allowed police to swab his hands for gunshot residue, which he actually refused, and why a piece of zipper from Gutierrez’s jacket was found in the Cadillac.
Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.