The defense and prosecution wrapped up seven days of often emotional testimony by presenting closing arguments yesterday in the rape trial of Timothy Joseph Buzbee, accused of being the Aspen Hill rapist.
Defense attorney Reginald W. Bours III asserted that the prosecution was "stretching and straining" the evidence to fit Buzbee. "He is innocent," Bours said, adding that the prosecution's evidence does not meet "the standard legal test of proof" beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury is expected to begin deliberating today.
For more than three hours yesterday, the opposing lawyers argued the case, focusing on Buzbee's testimony in his own defense, on the victim's identification of his voice and on dozens of tiny details.
Hamilton attacked Buzbee's denial of guilt, telling the jury, "He has the most important reason of all to lie, because he and he alone is charged with these crimes." The prosecutor said Buzbee had been "very clever . . . very insidious" in testifying that he could not remember what he did the night of July 30, 1981. "That is the perfect testimony someone can give if they know they're guilty," Hamilton said, arguing that such testimony cannot be broken down on cross-examination.
Bours, however, argued that "Tim Buzbee should not be castigated for taking the stand and proclaiming his innocence. Of course, he does not remember what he was doing 15 months ago. I'm not sure I could tell you what I was doing two months ago." Buzbee was arrested 15 months after the crime occurred.
The defendant's voice also became an issue of intense argument in the crowded courtroom.
The victim has testified that she was blindfolded during all but a few seconds of the abduction and rape, but that she listened intently to her attacker who had a speech impediment. In a voice lineup conducted by police last November after Buzbee became a suspect, the girl identified Buzbee's voice as that of her attacker. Buzbee was arrested and charged four days later.
Hamilton reminded jurors that a police detective had testified that Buzbee's voice is "very, very distinctive." To the assertion by members of Buzbee's family that his voice was not unusual, Hamilton said, "They were thinking they were hearing what they wanted to hear."
Bours, however, argued that the voice lineup run by police was unfair because the other voices used were not similar to Buzbee's. Further, he argued, the victim never made a positive identification, because she told detectives only that she was "pretty sure" the voice was that of her attacker.
Bours also noted that the victim had failed to identify Buzbee in a lineup held after his arrest.
Turning to the prosecution's one piece of physical evidence--seven of the assailant's hairs found on the victim--Hamilton told jurors he had presented to them an expert who is, "the Rembrandt of hair . . . the man who wrote the FBI book on hair." That expert testified that the hairs "probably were the defendant's."
But Bours argued that hairs, unlike fingerprints, are far from a positive identification.
The prosecutor has said that the victim was taken to the home of Buzbee's parents, who he said were at their Ocean City beach house that night. He argued yesterday that many of the features matched those of the Buzbee home in Flower Valley, while Bours concentrated on the inconsistencies.
"If you do the mature and responsible thing," Bours told the jurors, "you will find Tim Buzbee innocent, but if you don't believe that . . . at least you will say they haven't proven him guilty."
In his final words to the jury, Hamilton argued that "the defense asks you to reject the hair testimony, to reject the voice identification and to look at a few discrepancies . . . . You know in your hearts Timothy Buzbee is guilty. I beseech you, I implore you do your duty in this case.