VALLEJO — The defense rested its case and closing arguments got under way Tuesday in the jury trial for a woman who faces murder charges for the 2007 killings of two women, one in Cordelia, the other in Dixon.
Prosecutor Krishna Abrams set the stage for her closing argument against Paige Linville by bringing her ex-boyfriend and alleged accomplice back to the witness stand for the third time during the two-month trial.
The ex-boyfriend, Mario Moreno, already took a plea deal for the killings of Amber Chappell and Christina Baxley. He agreed to a prison term as long as 32 years on a pair of voluntary manslaughter charges in exchange for his testimony against Linville.
Moreno, who has been in jail since their arrests in 2007, was led out of a holding cell wearing dress pants, a freshly pressed button-down shirt and a matching tie. He has worn handcuffs, shackles and jailhouse garb at his previous court appearances.
Abrams asked Moreno several questions, trying to counter the testimony of Linville, who spent nine hours on the witness stand last week. Many of the questions had been asked and answered before.
Early into her closing argument, Abrams explained the costume change for her star witness. She reminded jurors that what Moreno wears does not matter. The issue is whether jurors believe his version of events of what happened Nov. 16, 2007. Abrams then told jurors that Linville’s attire did not matter. Linville, who Abrams repeatedly described as Little Miss Muffet, has worn glasses, worn her hair in a bun or braided and often worn sweaters and other conservative attire throughout the trial.
Moreno once again described picking up Chappell after a methamphetamine sale with Linville in Vallejo and driving them to Cordelia, where he shot and killed Chappell at around 4 a.m. in a dark, secluded cul-de-sac alongside Interstate 680.
Abrams later told jurors that Moreno’s description of murder was “raw, real and credible” and as cold and dry “as watching paint dry on the wall.”
Abrams repeatedly told jurors that Moreno’s testimony was largely corroborated by Linville’s testimony. They diverged largely over whether Linville gunned down Baxley several hours after Chappell’s killing, or whether Moreno killed both women while Linville was in shock and along for the ride and in fear for her life.
Linville’s defense attorney, Amy Morton, began her closing statement by methodically reviewing the testimony of most prosecution witnesses, including several who knew Linville or Moreno from the methamphetamine underworld of Vallejo. Morton told jurors that those witnesses were beholden to Abrams and “the coercive power of the prosecution” and that they had lied and made things up to appease prosecutors.
Morton also noted the minor, sometimes irrelevant, inconsistencies of brief witnesses between what they told authorities in 2007 and what they testified to during the jury trial.
Morton ended the day by recounting the testimony of a defense expert witness she labeled as “impeccable,” who she said proved that Moreno was a liar about “a very critical point in (the) case.” Moreno testified that he watched through a car window as Linville walked up to Baxley and shot her outside a Dixon apartment complex where she was walking her dog at lunchtime.
Morton told jurors she would resume her closing argument Wednesday morning by showing them pictures of the tinted windows of the car the Linville and Moreno were in as further proof that Moreno is lying.
Morton did not explain to jurors how it was that her client could, as she testified to in explicit detail, see through the same tinted windows and watch as Moreno shot and killed Baxley.
Closing arguments are scheduled to wrap up starting at 9 a.m. in the courtroom of Judge Allan P. Carter.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.