Saturday, April 11, 2015

Miriam Conrad's cross-examination of FBI photographer Michelle Gamble

On March 30, 2015 the prosecution finished its presentation in the guilt phase of the Tsarnaev trial. FBI photographer Michelle Gamble was the second-last prosecution witness to testify and the last cross-examined by the defense. At the end of his questioning prosecution attorney Weinreb turned to the footage of the second bomb site. In the cross-examination Miriam Conrad immediately chimed in to the subject with a few questions:

- she makes Gamble admit that an overhead diagram of the Forum with circles indicating the position of people on the sidewalk does not show all people who were there, i.e. that the diagram omits some people. Gamble also admits that the prosecution told her to do so.

- she asks Gamble for the distance of Dzokhar to the bomb when it went off, which Gamble is unable to answer.

- she points out that on the Forum video some people "moved around a bit" after the first blast, which is confirmed by Gamble.

For the common observer, Conrad's questions must look cryptic, incoherent and not expedient. Where did she want to get at? It is even weirder that these were the defense's last questions with regard to the second bomb site, and they didn't call any witness of their own for that topic. Did Conrad not have any more urgent questions to ask? Reading between the lines is obviously necessary.

Conrad's questions are related to the topography of the crime scene and which people were there at what time. She points out weaknesses and contradictions of the footage of the second bomb site, especially the Forum video. As I have outlined in previous blog entries, the authenticity of the Forum video is highly questionable. Conrad behaves as if she is aware of other footage not compatible to the government's material. But she doesn't dig deep, only intimates, like a cat playing with a mouse, not hurting it, but giving it no chance to escape.

This enables certain inferences about the defense strategy. This cross-examination looks rather like a little veiled message of strength to the government than a closing address for the second bomb site complex.

The time of the following blogs of David Boeri and Kelley Tuthill is reversed, i.e. they have to be read from the bottom up. They start shortly before Weinreb ends his questioning.