Closing Arguments Win Approval from Judge

Baltimore Courthouse

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Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer took a moment on Aug. 19 to speak to the attorneys in the Vincent Harris trial and praise them for what she described as very well-prepped closing arguments. 

The impashioned arguments from both sides, each attacked with a different angle, showed the lawyers spent a good amount of time on the case and were a pleasure to watch, Judge Schiffer said. 

The prosecution began by emphasizing the undeniable fact that 37-year-old Jacob Coates’ blood was on the murder weapon, a weapon Harris admitted to owning and carrying, recovered from his waistband shortly after the crime. 

The prosecutor also reminded the jury that Harris had Coates’ wife’s pill bottle on him when he was arrested and Coates’ blood was also found on Harris’ shoe. 

“His blood identified the man who took his life,” the prosecutor said.

Josh Insley, Harris’ defense attorney, took a different route, arguing about what evidence the prosecution left out, which led to speculation about who of the three men committed which crime. 

“Did Tracey Coates ever utter the words: Vincent Harris,” Insely asked the jury. 

Insley argued that the prosecution’s eyewitness never actually identified Harris as the shooter, and said the prosecution was making connections for themselves between Harris and the shooting. 

Insley said the prosecution was insulting the jury’s intelligence by suggesting Coates was shot with a gun jammed into him because he felt the stippling pattern didn’t support that conclusion. He also said a jacket Harris was supposedly wearing and was comically small.  

Insley suggested Marlow Moore, Harris’ co-defendant, was the shooter because Moore was the only one without Coates’ blood on him. 

Insley also argued Harris was the odd man out because he lived in Columbia and had a mountain of evidence dumped in his lap by his Baltimore resident co-defendants. 

Insley’s comments about the co-defendants framing Harris drew great ire from the prosecutor, who threw her arms up in the air. 

“That’s the defense,” the prosecutor said incredulously, “the kid from the suburbs didn’t do it, it was the city kids?” 

She told the jury there was no evidence the “city kids” pressured Harris to take the fall and reminded them Harris told police the gun was his and he carried it around. 

The prosecutor ended by saying that Coates’ wife being unable to identify anyone because she wasn’t certain was not the same thing as saying the person didn’t do anything. 

The jury began deliberations before court ended. Deliberations will resume Aug. 22. 

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