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Sloppy work by police, prosecutors makes for quick acquittal

Attorney Tim Murphy won a trial this week for a client charged with criminal trespass in the first degree, a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

After the jury was sent to deliberate, a Clark County deputy prosecutor was filling out post-conviction paperwork that wouldn’t be necessary. The jury was out fewer than 20 minutes before returning with a “not guilty” verdict.

During the March 19 trial in Clark County District Court, a deputy prosecutor argued that Murphy’s client entered a residence uninvited. The charging document filed in court by prosecutors listed the address as on 89th Street in Camas; the police reports listed it alternately as 8th Street and 89th Street. (The residence is on 8th Street).

A neighbor reported Murphy’s client to 911. She testified at trial that the defendant knew the property owner, but he wasn’t allowed to be in the residence.

The prosecutor didn’t call the property owner, however, to the witness stand.

During his closing argument, Murphy emphasized to the jury the sloppy work by both the police and prosecutor in mixing up the address where the alleged crime occurred and the fact that the prosecutor didn’t bother calling the property owner to testify.

That type of carelessness and laziness are reasons why people get wrongly convicted, Murphy told jurors. He repeated one of the instructions that the judge read to jury members: “You may not consider the fact that punishment may follow conviction except insofar as it may tend to make you careful.”

“That’s all we ask, that the evidence is carefully considered, that we make sure the state’s case adds up, to view their allegations carefully,” Murphy said during his closing. “We ask you to be careful, but we must ask the same thing of the state.” 

Tags: criminal law, not guilty, Clark County

Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.: Vancouver Defenders Jeffrey D. Barrar, P.S.
Vancouver Defenders