Thursday, February 1, 2007

The Jury is Out

The wanton murder trial of Harrison Yonts was handed over to the jury today at approximately 12:50 p.m. Closing arguments began this morning at 10:25, with Dennis Null of the defense arguing first. Similar themes that have been present throughout the defense's questioning were mentioned in the closing statement, and particular emphasis was again placed on the charge of tampering with evidence. For the first time the defense ventured an explanation for the glass shards found on Yonts's pants and toboggan, saying that the person who drove his car came into his room to return the keys, getting glass shards on his pants. Arguments were also made that had Yonts been driving his clothing would've been covered in a fine glass dust; it was not. Additionally, the defense said that had he been driving, his shirt and the bathroom where his shirt was left would've been littered with glass as the entryway had been. The defense continued its attack on the Murray Police Department and particularly lead detective Kendra Smith for failure to conduct a thorough investigation, even going as far as to suggest that jurors should make a note on their verdict forms indicating their desire to see an investigation continue on this case.

After more than an hour and a half of arguments from the defense, the court recessed briefly before the state began its closing arguments. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Jim Harris told that jurors that he did not intend to interpret the information they had been presented throughout the trial, but that he was confident the facts would speak for themselves. He reminded the jury of key pieces of information regarding the events of Nov. 10, 2005 on the part of both Shaheen and Yonts, and refuted several arguments made by the defense, including the proposal that Shaheen had left her apartment after returning home from the lab - a point supported by the backpack she was wearing when she left the Hart College Computer lab that was found on the scene. The backpack was filled with study-related items. Harris implored the jury to return a guilty verdict. "If not now, when?" Harris said. "If not us, who?"

After the closing arguments ceased, two jurors were dismissed in accordance with an earlier decision to have two alternate jurors watch the proceedings. The jury is now in deliberation, and The Murray State News will be there for the announcement of a verdict. Check back with The News Blogs and, and of course with our Friday edition.



Anonymous said...

I hope the law gets this right and those who testified did the right thing but I have a sick feeling neither thing really will happen.

This person should go to jail for the rest of his life. Please let them get this right.

John said...

Elizabeth, your coverage has been excellent. Tightly written narrative, blending facts with the tone of the deliberations. Thanks for this service.

John Dillon

Anonymous said...

To the other posters. What ever happened to "innocent untill proven guilty"

dell1 said...

As an MSU alum I would like to commend the MSU News for this blog, and for the fair reporting that has taken place. It is my hope that justice is served regardless of the outcome. However, it would serve no purpose to see Mr. Yonts serve time in prison based on the fact he has had no record. I feel the Commonwealth has chosen the wrong charge for Mr. Yonts....very tough choice for the jury...keep up the good work and keep on blogging.

Anonymous said...

Whatever it looks like nobody wins on this case that was somebodys mother and somebodys son!!!

Anonymous said...

The verdict is in and it is NO victory ~this is horrible. I think a life like this would best be served not rotting behind bars but using community service to prevent this around the nation. This is not making an example of this boy but just shutting it away.

I understand the family cannot forgive but another wasted life. TrAgEdY. I've heard of good people who can forgive...I know 'a life for a life' but what a waste!

Truly a tragedy...think about how this strong story can move young people in the U.S and the tragedy of it all be shared to stop other students in the world from making the SAME MISTAKE. Again, I don't think that will happen with him rotting behind bars for 17-20 years (horrible in all ways for both sides!) :(.