Prosecution Closing

Your honor,

At the beginning of this trial today the State promised you that the evidence would establish -- beyond a reasonable doubt – that this fire was no accident and that the defendant Whitney Grey deliberately destroyed the Bellows and O’Brien Pub. You have just heard the State delivered on that promise.

Let’s first look at what is not in dispute at the close of all evidence:

First, the defendant had a prior conviction for setting not just one but two fires, and a 10-year history after that of attending virtually every fire in town, small or large. Now the defense may argue that the defendant’s adolescent history was just that – mistakes of his past. But how many people seeking to get beyond their past return -- like a moth to a flame – to the source of temptation? We have seen that Whitney could not get enough of fire. He lit fires. He studied fires. He loved to watch fires. (ADD THE FOLLOWING ONLY IF DECKER IS CALLED) The only person who didn’t believe Whitney Grey continued to be fascinated by fire was Dr. Decker – the professional witness who was paid a small fortune by Whitney’s co-conspirator.

Next, it is undisputed that the defendant was desperate for money. College, rent, car – they all add up. To whom did Whitney turn for money shortly before the fire? The other person charged with arson in this matter, Ashton Bellows. Whitney even admitted that on the very day of the fire he discussed his arsonist past with this co-conspirator. Ashton Bellows had money to lend to the defendant, but chose not to. By then, Mr./Ms. Bellows had developed other plans.

Third, it is undisputed that Ashton Bellows wanted out. He was tired of the hours and tired of the grind. He wanted to move some place warmer – so he and his partner in crime turned up the heat big time. Ashton had asked his partner months earlier to buy him out – but that partner had not made a single move to find the necessary money. So, when Whitney Grey asked for an advance on his pay -- and at the same time happened to remind Mr. Bellows of his expertise in fire setting -- Mr. Bellows found his ticket out. A “win-win” plan was hatched right then and there. Ashton Bellows would get out of the business with plenty of money – one-quarter of a million dollars – and Whitney Grey would get the chance to demonstrate his fire craft. Whitney would also get that recommendation he needed and, undoubtedly, an “advance” on his salary that
………………………………..never would need to be repaid. No wonder these two smiled together as the pub went up in smoke!

Now the defense wants you to believe that this fire was an accident, or that maybe Lane O’Brien himself set the fire. But we have seen that Mr. O’Brien’s heart and soul were in the pub. His family heirlooms were in the pub. It wasn’t his idea to increase the insurance – it was Ashton Bellows’.

Fire Marshall Eaton Bahr is a very experienced expert in diagnosing the causes of fire. He told the court today that this fire was no accident. No one was stripping furniture on the 4th of July. The heat gun was not left on by accident. Coffee pots are not left on the floor. Windows in both the basement and the loft area are not left open by accident. Gasoline is not spread around a basement by accident. The defendant had a ready excuse for the presence of a gas can in the trunk of his car, but no ready answer for why gasoline was a primary accelerant for this fire. The defendant and Ashton Bellows controlled the gasoline can. The defendant and Ashton Bellows planned and set this fire.

A moth to a flame. A desire to help a good friend. A desire to help himself – this is the only explanation for this fire. The defendant had the means, the motive and the opportunity. The State asks you to find the defendant Whitney Grey guilty of arson.

Thank you very much.