Probably the Prosecutor’s Best Cross-Examination

In our last post, we examined the trial of a belatedly truthful young murder defendant who decided to confess on the witness stand. We reproduced his testimony and posed two questions: What did the prosecutor do in this situation? What would you do in the same situation? Here is what happened in the trial:

A: I believe that she is the one that killed the man because — f*** it, I reckon I’ll just cop out. I have done it, killed him deader than hell. I ain’t going to set up here, I am under oath and I ain’t going to tell no f***ing lies. I will ask the Court to excuse my language. I am the one that done it. They [the one’s he had been accusing] didn’t have a damn thing to do with it. It was premeditated and I intended to kill him. I would have killed him if he hadn’t had no money [to defense counsel] and I know I never told you about it, but I killed him.

BY THE COURT: Do you want to come down, Mr. Edwards?
BY THE DEFENDANT: Sir?
BY THE COURT: Do you want to come down and have your seat?
BY THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
BY DEFENSE COUNSEL: I rest.
BY THE PROSECUTOR: No questions.

That was probably the best cross the prosecutor performed during the entire trial. There’s an old saying that you should never attempt to murder a witness who is committing suicide, and this situation exemplifies that adage perfectly. You seldom confront a situation where cross-examination won’t elicit further information helpful to your side, but when you do you should follow the example of the prosecutor in this case.