Andrew Abood discusses the Celebration Ordinance in East Lansing with WILS
Debunking the Lone Gunman Theory
From our desk….
Lawyers refer to their profession as the “practice of law.” When pressed with what the term means, most would answer that it means that you never reach perfection. No matter how long you are a member of the bar, a lawyer is always practicing. At the Abood Law Firm, we understand the phrase the “practice of law”, we prefer to think of what we do more as a discipline. Any discipline requires routine, like yoga or conducting a pre-flight inspection. With any discipline, there are certain fundamental principles, and with the law, that is no different. One of the fundamental principles with this discipline is that lawyers should go to the original source. Whether it is a court’s written decision, a statute, or a witness, it is too easy to rely on a summary as opposed to looking and analyzing the written decision, statute or interviewing the witness for yourself. Facts are checked and double-checked by multiple people from different perspectives.
Nowhere was this more evident than on a case in which the Abood Law Firm was retained in Naples, Florida. Our client was charged with 2nd degree murder for the death of her husband. We became involved in the case hours after the death. Under such circumstances, strategy and fundamentals are important aspects early on to preserve and assure a good result. In this case, we were fortunate that the police turned over the house hours after the death. The Abood Law Firm spent the better part f the day inspecting the scene to attempt to determine what objective facts could be obtained.
During our inspection, it was determined that critical evidence was not secured by the scene investigators for the State, including a one pass box which appeared to have been shredded by a bullet, as well as a .38 caliber handgun. Not only did the Abood Law Firm conduct a detailed examination of the death scene, but the firm was also able to get the client out on bond, which also allowed the client to travel to and stay in Michigan where her family resided.
From the outset, it was clear that the State’s theory was that there was a lone gunman who fired the fatal shot — which the State theorized was our client. Various bullet fragments were secured by the State, but not all. Some fragments had pierced the through the drywall and had fallen into the crevice. Our defense team was able to secure the fragments behind the wall, which ultimately appeared to be manufactured differently than the fatal shot.
Additionally, as the case progressed, on several occasions the Abood Law Firm went to the Sheriff’s Department to inspect the evidence seized by the State. Included within the inventory were several bullet fragments of various shapes and sizes. Using digital calipers, the Abood Law Firm measured the fragments to determine whether any of the fragments could substantiate that a second gun was fired. Taking photos of the measurements, and in consultation with a firearms expert, it was concluded that at least one of the fragments could not have been fired from the gun suspected of causing the fatal shot.
Armed with this information, we then asked the State to send the particular bullet fragment to the State lab for testing including a determination as to caliber and whether the fragment could have come from the same gun that had fired the fatal shot. Ultimately, the State’s expert concluded that the bullet fragment was not fired from the same gun that fired the fatal shot, which told us that more than one weapon was fired inside the residence.
But we did not rest there. We pressed the State to disclose the results of the gunshot residue testing from both the Defendant’s and the deceased’s hands. Although the State delayed significantly in producing the test results, once it was produced, the defense’s theory gained more ground. It turned out that the deceased had more gunshot residue on his hands than the Defendant had on her hands.
Given the overwhelming evidence contrary to the State’s theory that the Defendant was the lone gunman, the State concluded that the best it could do was to offer the Defendant a probationary offense, which did not include any additional jail time.