- The Washington Times - Monday, April 16, 2007

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Melanie McGuire is a woman who was betrayed by the men who loved her, hounded by law-enforcement authorities and physically incapable of the crime she is accused of committing, her attorney argued yesterday.

Closing arguments began yesterday in the six-week-long trial of a New Jersey woman accused of drugging and shooting her husband before dismembering his body and throwing it into the Chesapeake Bay in three suitcases that washed up in May 2004 in Virginia.

“There is no proof that Melanie McGuire murdered her husband,” defense attorney Joseph Tacopina said. “This case is a result of a tragic rush to judgment. They saw what they wanted to see. They heard what they wanted to hear.”

The prosecution argues that Mrs. McGuire, 34, killed her husband so she could have a more serious relationship with her lover, Dr. Bradley Miller, her boss at a Morristown fertility clinic. The affair began in 2002 when Mrs. McGuire was nine months pregnant with her second child.

The prosecution pointed to Internet searches made from Mrs. McGuire’s Woodbridge home computer on such topics as gun laws and ways to kill people and her purchase of a gun days before her husband disappeared.

During his closing arguments, Mr. Tacopina said the petite Mrs. McGuire was physically unable to kill her 6-foot-3, 210-pound husband.

The prosecution has said Mrs. McGuire most likely had help in carrying out the crime, but authorities have not named an accomplice or charged anyone else.

Mr. Tacopina noted that the state’s forensic expert’s numerous searches of the couple’s apartment found no blood or marks from the reciprocating saw that prosecutors say she used to cut up her husband.

“If you’re going to dismember someone in a porcelain bathtub, you’re going to leave some marks,” Mr. Tacopina said.

Mr. Tacopina called the prosecution’s arguments an “implausible” case based on circumstantial evidence, which would require the jury to perform “mental gymnastics” in order to find Mrs. McGuire guilty.

The defense also highlighted the fact that two men close to Mrs. McGuire — Dr. Miller and her friend James Finn — both cooperated with authorities to record their telephone conversations with Mrs. McGuire.

Playing snippets of the recordings that had been played during the trial, Mr. Tacopina told jurors that they were hearing Mrs. McGuire at her “most vulnerable.”

“Melanie was remarkably consistent throughout,” Mr. Tacopina said. “She repeatedly said ‘I didn’t do it.’ ”

Mrs. McGuire’s attorneys described William McGuire as a man with a heavy gambling problem who may have been killed by people to whom he owed money.

During his closing arguments, Mr. Tacopina said Mr. McGuire liked gambling in Atlantic City and often took with him sums as large as $5,000, although he made $65,000 at his computer programmer job.

The trial was delayed for about an hour and a half because of a violent storm that hit the region, flooding roads and creating havoc for many jurors and lawyers on their way to the courthouse.

After Mr. Tacopina finished his closing arguments, Judge Frederick DeVesa announced that the courthouse would be closing at 2 p.m. because of the storm. Prosecutors will present their closing arguments today.

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