Melanie McGuire Convicted of Murder, Dismembering Her Husband

JOE McLAUGHLIN/Staff photographer, Home News Tribune

Nurse Melanie McGuire was convicted today of murdering her husband, dismembering him and dumping his body in the Chesapeake Bay.

You can watch the verdict here.

It was an entirely circumstantial case. TalkLeft pal Joe Tacopina was lead counsel. He and co-counsel Stephen Turano challenged every piece of evidence. They tried a great case. But the jury convicted.

Her $1.2 million bail was revoked, she was taken into custody and now faces a mandatory minimum 30 year sentence -- and up to life.


"This is round one," Tacopina said. "Certainly she plans on fighting on." Tacopina said at least two possible points on appeal have already emerged. He said the defense was unaware before the trial began that McGuire's lover, physician Bradley Miller, had lied to a grand jury, which he said was a violation of rules of evidence.

In addition, he said the defense plans to raise questions about whether there was interference with the jury during the trial. On Friday, Judge DeVesa and the attorneys met privately with each juror to determine if they had been exposed to the extensive media coverage during the seven-week trial. "We know the jury had some contact to the outside world," Tacopina said of those meetings.

< Boris Yeltsin Has Died | DNA Clears 200th Person >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    "Entirely circumstantial" (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon Apr 23, 2007 at 04:52:27 PM EST
      I see this a lot, though not usually from actual lawyers, bandied about as if it makes a verdict less reliable than one that is not "entirely circumstantial."

      Yet, we know that a great many murder cases are "entirely circumstantial" because the only witness is dead and thus unavailable to provide direct testimony of his killing. Surprisingly enough, many people who kill figure out the  advantages of doing the killing at a time and place where there will be no witnesses to provide direct testimony.

      As i have stated before, often circumstantial evidence is more reliable than direct evidence which can include deliberately false testimony, testimony based upon imperfect observation, identification,  recollection, etc.

       The obvious reality is that murder cases where there is "direct evidence" usually involve either pretty hopeless cases tried only because the prosecution will not offer a beneficial plea agreement or defenses of self-defense, provocation, mental state and the like because (unless the witnesses able to give direct testimony are readily impeachable) it's a real tough case when eyewitnesses say "I saw the defendant kill him."

      As (almost) everyone considers that self-evident, your shrwed murderer takes that into account. If we could not prosecute any murder unless there was direct evidence a lot more murderers would "get off."

    what's the relevance of your comment? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 23, 2007 at 06:53:41 PM EST
    No one criticized circumstantial evidence. It was a fact that the prosecution acknowledged and one which made the trial interesting.

    I didn't say the verdict was wrong because it relied on circumstantial evidence and Tacopina didn't say that in his post-trial comments.

    circumstantial evidence (none / 0) (#3)
    by lawstudent on Mon Apr 23, 2007 at 07:31:55 PM EST
    I think "deconstructionist" makes a good point about circumstantial evidence.  Being that you're a defense attorney, Jeralyn, and you often critique what you feel to be wrongful convictions, I don't think "deconstructionist's" interpretation of your statement, "It was an entirely circumstantial case" was inappropriate.  But if you're truly posting this story for its "newsworthiness," I guess the fact that the evidence was circumstantial is merely tangential and irrelevant.

    yes, I posted it as a newsworthy item (none / 0) (#5)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 12:23:37 AM EST
    and because the defense lawyer is a good friend of mine and I know how devastated he is by the loss.

    All of my posts on criminal cases come from the view of a defense lawyer. But even defense lawyers know that the law doesn't treat cirumstantial evidence different from direct evidence.

    A question may arise, and I don't know enough about this case to say whether it will, that the DA's case was based on inferences that didn't rise to the level of circumstantial evidence.  But that's not what I wrote.


    this was the case where they had a huge fight (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Mon Apr 23, 2007 at 07:43:11 PM EST
    beforehand, over the prosecutor's propensity for trying to shoehorn in the phrase "human sawdust" when talking about whatever it was that the prosecution claimed was on the defendant's shoes or the rug in her car.

    Given the body was allegedly dismembered with a power saw, you can see how inflammatory this would have been.  I'm not sure whether Tacopina kept this out entirely, but IIRC the pretrial ruling precluded it.

    OK (none / 0) (#6)
    by Deconstructionist on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 07:23:59 AM EST
     "It was an entirely circumstantial case. TalkLeft pal Joe Tacopina was lead counsel. He and co-counsel Stephen Turano challenged every piece of evidence. They tried a great case. But the jury convicted."

      If you say the above was not intended to convey the implication that the fact the case was entirely circumstantial somehow made it less than a just outcome despite your pal's great job,  I'll take yo at your word. I would suggest, though that if such was not the implication you intended to convey, you should have written it differently.

    I also got that impression (none / 0) (#7)
    by eric on Tue Apr 24, 2007 at 11:06:17 AM EST
    Reading that comment about circumstantial evidence also made me think that there was some sort of negative implicaiton intended.

    Cold As Ice (none / 0) (#8)
    by JennyOpines on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 12:27:15 PM EST
    Did anyone else get goose bumps from listening to her icy, arrogant voice when they replayed her phone conversations?

    Even if she didn't commit the murder (which she did) and even if she hated her husband, you'd expect a modicum of compassion or emotion in her tone, just for the fact alone, that he was her children's father.

    Oh, but she did have a whole lot of emotion and compassion for her own pitiful self, when her freedom was about to be taken from her....though, unlike her husband, she was allowed to remain alive.

    I hope she rots in prison...and when she's finally dead, I hope she rots in Hell.

    Women Killers (none / 0) (#9)
    by JennyOpines on Wed Apr 25, 2007 at 12:35:12 PM EST
    Scott Peterson case.....entirely circumstantial evidence.
    But it seems with female killers, nothing less than a videotape of her actually committing the crime will suffice.
    Where are the sympathetic stories about Bill McGuire, as there were about Lacey Peterson?
    Why are his friends and family not being paraded on tv, giving that victim a human face, as it is always done with female victims?
    This double standard infuriates me, and it has got to stop.