At NashvillePost.com, E. Thomas Wood
has a strong piece about the ruling today that blocked an alternate theory regarding the murder of 9-year-old Marcia Trimble in 1975.
Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier ruled that the jury in the trial of Jerome Barrett will not hear evidence supporting a new theory set forth by police and prosecutors--that Barrett was perhaps in Trimble's neighborhood to intimidate a potential witness who could identify him from a previous attack. Wood lays out the argument:
Barrett attacked this woman, the prosecution argued, two days before he attacked and killed Marcia Trimble on Feb. 25, 1975. The woman was petite in stature - just under five feet, just over 100 pounds. Sarah Des Prez, the 19-year-old Vanderbilt University student Barrett was convicted earlier this year of killing, was also of small stature, Metro homicide detective Pat Postiglione testified. That murder occurred Feb. 2, 1975. Postiglione noted that neither of these grown women was much larger than Trimble, who was 9 years old at the time of her killing.
Des Prez and Trimble both died from strangulation, and semen was found on their blouses in each case, Postiglione testified.
Beyond those similarities, Postiglione told the court of a coincidence that he termed "amazing" and Dozier later called "ironic." The parents of the woman attacked on Fairfax lived on Dorcas Dr., right behind the Trimble family home on Copeland Dr. The two properties shared a property line.
Dozier ruled that lack of proof and the prejudicial effect of the witness's testimony outweighed the theory's plausibility to 12 jurors. What Wood's piece brings back for local residents who were here at the time--and what Wood himself no doubt remembers--is the nervous pall of uncertainty that occurs every time seeming progress in the 34-year-old case hits a snag.
The murder created such a climate of fear, distrust and mystery, and ruined so many lives in the ensuing decades, that Barrett's arrest still seems surreally anticlimactic. As Wood points out, even if the jury to be selected starting Monday decides that Barrett answers the "who," the absence of a clear-cut "why" and "how" may trouble the city's sleep for years to come.