MARQUETTE - Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese presented closing arguments to the jury Tuesday morning in the open murder trial of Jacques Earl Carpenter.
On June 8, 2012, Carpenter, 53, shot and killed David Scott Meyer Jr. at the 409 N. Second St. residence where both men were staying. Carpenter has claimed that he shot Meyer in self-defense after Meyer attacked him with a large hunting knife.
"I submit to you the case boils down to one simple thing," Wiese told the jury Tuesday. "Whether or not it was self-defense used in this case."
Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese presents his closing argument to the jury Tuesday in the open murder trial of Jacques Earl Carpenter. Wiese urged the jury to distance itself from any personal feelings they may have for the people involved and to make their decision based on evidence. In his arguments, Wiese stressed that the key question jurors must ask is whether the shooting was in self defense. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
Wiese began by going over the initial statements made by Justin Saari - the sole eyewitness to the shooting - to Marquette County Sheriff's deputy Betsy Rochon, who encountered Saari at the Ishpeming Police Department and who went with him to the scene. Wiese said that the defense had argued throughout the trial that the first words Saari said to Rochon were about the knife Carpenter claimed Meyer had attacked him with.
"Actually, Justin Saari's first words ... were, 'The guy that shot him, he's going to try to get me,' Wiese said. Wiese went on to describe the next few statements Saari made to Rochon, including that Saari said he felt lucky to be alive, and that Carpenter wanted Saari to help him cover it up and move the body.
Wiese also talked about the intense scrutiny Saari has been under throughout the trial, and said the defense had "flyspeck(ed) everything about him." In particular, Wiese said, there was a lot of focus on Saari's actions with Meyer that day - the two men started the day with the intravenous use of Ritalin, and had then gotten a ride from Carpenter to several stores in the Ishpeming area to buy components to manufacture methamphetamine.
"We're not denying that they may have been involved in drugs," Wiese said. "This isn't a trial about methamphetamine manufacture, it's a trial about whether or not one man in our community has the right to shoot and kill another man in our community and whether or not it was justified self-defense."
Wiese then described what Rochon encountered upon arriving at the scene, how Carpenter had blood on his sweater and there was "literally blood on his hands." He pointed out that Carpenter had at first evaded or denied Rochon's questions about the shooting, and dismissed the defense's explanation that Carpenter was in shock.
"He wasn't in shock, he was intoxicated," Wiese said.
A preliminary breath test conducted at the scene showed Carpenter had a .24 blood alcohol content, although the PBT results are inadmissable in the trial under Michigan law.
Wiese said that the jury had to consider the evidence, and said that when it came to evidence of self-defense there was "none whatsoever." He urged the jury not to "be fooled by theatrics" from the defense, especially involving the knife with which Carpenter claims Meyer attacked him.
"The evidentiary value of that knife at the scene, in my estimation to you, is zero," Wiese said.
The knife in question - with a 10-inch black blade and a five-inch rubber handle - was found blade down sticking out of a duffel bag containing meth components, inside a laundry basket in the living room. The knife was not tested for contact DNA, but the forensic team did examine the knife for traces of blood and determined that there was none. The knife was collected as evidence the day of the shooting, and was tested for fingerprints at the end of July this year. No fingerprints were found.
Ultimately, Wiese told the jury that they have been called upon to judge the actions of a fellow citizen, and in that role he urged them to look beyond any personal feelings about who was involved and consider the facts.
"It doesn't matter if Jack Carpenter was intoxicated, it doesn't matter if David Meyer was a drug addict, it doesn't matter if Justin Saari was a drug addict," Wiese said. "What you have to do is look at the evidence."
Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.