KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - The jury went into deliberations in the case against a man accused of a 2003 Kalamazoo murder after closing arguments were held Tuesday.
Besham Sugrim is accused of murdering Linda Gibson. Murder charges arose only after Sugrim was arrested on child abuse charges for allegedly beating his 11-year-old daughter. His wife Bernadette Sugrim then came forward to police, saying Sugrim had told her he had committed the murder.
Judge Gary Guigere set firm rules for the closing arguments. Both sides were allowed only 55 minutes to make closing arguments. As in all criminal cases, the prosecution -- which is faced with the burden of proof -- went first. The prosecution was also allowed a 10 minute rebuttal at the end.
Prosecuting attorney Stuart Fenton presented to the jury what he called 30 reason why Sugrim is guilty, often apologizing for his frenetic pace due to the time constrictions placed on him.
Fenton said that Sugrim is a cold-blooded killer, filled with and fueled by rage, who is guilty of premeditated murder.
Fenton reminded the jury that Sugirm confessed his guilt to his wife Bernadette. He also said that the evidence presented proves that Sugrim has lied about the details of the crime to police and investigators.
Fenton said that Sugrim had a "preoccupation" with evil. It was something that Sugrim taught his children, something that he studied and a concept with which he was fascinated, Fenton said.
"He mentions the word evil numerous times in his interviews with police," said Fenton. "He even admits he is an evil seed and we will see that later. Ladies and gentlemen, the person who did this clearly has evil inside of them."
Fenton urged the jury to not base its conclusion on any one person's testimony, but to instead base their decision on the synthesis of everything that they heard during the trial.
Fenton said it doesn't matter that Gibson was a prostitute. He said that her family has waited almost nine years for justice and "today is justice day."
During the trial, defense attorney Robert Champion didn't call any witnesses to testify on Sugrim's behalf.
In his closing argument, Champion said that the prosecutor took all of the evidence out of context.
Champion said 95% of the evidence presented by the prosecution has nothing to do with the murder of Gibson. He told the jury that they could not convict Sugrim of murder based on the fact that Sugrim has committed other "bad acts."
Champion said there are too many inconsistencies in the prosecution's case to convict Sugrim and that the only fact not in dispute is that Gibson's body was found on Sept. 14, 2003.
He said that there is evidence that Sugrim did not control his wife, as she testified. He said that Bernadette Sugrim made up the story about Besham Sugrim murdering Gibson as a way to get rid of him.
"My client didn't do this," Champion said to end his closing argument. "There is more than a reasonable doubt. I beg you to go over every piece of evidence and find my client not guilty."
The jury was allowed go home for the evening on Tuesday before reaching a verdict, which will likely come Wednesday.
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