Defense claims a cigarette with Ennis’ DNA was planted at the scene of the car fire | Crime News

LAUREN JOHNSON

During closing statements on Tuesday afternoon, William Whatley, one of two attorneys for Rick Ennis in his capital murder trial, told the jury that the biggest question the prosecution had left unanswered was the why Ennis allegedly killed Lori Slesinski.

He said the state wanted them to believe it was “because Slesinski just wanted to stay friends” and that Ennis killed her because of it.

“Is it really reasonable that you kill someone because they just want to be friends?” Whatley asked. “Is that a reasonable answer based on the evidence you’ve heard?” Is this reasonable given your own life experience? »

Whatley said there was “no evidence” that this was happening and that the entire prosecution case was circumstantial evidence.

“When the state has to rely solely on circumstantial evidence to secure a conviction, then you have to look at that closely,” Whatley said.

In her rebuttal, Lee County District Attorney Jessica Ventiere told the jury the case was about a man “obsessed with Lori” and not about “puppy love.”

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Ventiere said Ennis tells everyone about his love for Lori, even people he isn’t close friends with.

Ventiere reminded the jury that Ennis testified that he wrote a love letter to Slesinski and put her in her house while she was away using the key she gave him.

Ennis testified that Slesinski asked for the key and left the letter when he returned the key, but Ventiere asked if Slesinski asked for the key after he found the letter in his trailer. Ennis replied that he couldn’t be “100% sure”.

When Slesinski told Ennis she wanted to stay friends, Ventiere said it was “reasonable enough that Rick Ennis” wanted to kill her.

Slesinski’s Tuesday friends went to see her, they said they found her dog in his crate but he was neither thirsty nor hungry and there was no urine or excretion in the crate, Ventiere said.

“What random drug dealer gone bad would then come back to the victim and deal with the dog?” asked Ventiere. “A random drug dealer wouldn’t do that. A man, obsessed with love with a girl, would return.

Whatley, the defense attorney, reminded the jury that when firefighters extinguished the fire in Slesinski’s car, they used a “flash line, 150 pounds per square inch” to extinguish the fire. He held up photos of the aftermath for the jury to see.

“Look at the ground,” he told them. “Everything around him is soaked.”

Whatley told the jury that everything collected as evidence at this scene was wet, except for the hand-rolled cigarette that Auburn police detective Lee Hodge said he found on the premises. Forensic analysis showed that the cigarette’s DNA matched Ennis.

“This cigarette butt is not from the burn scene,” Whatley said. “And do you know why? They don’t have any records that show it came from the burn scene. They don’t have any documents. They had no witnesses to say it came from the fire scene. Clarence Stewart found it in a box years later No record of how it got there.

On Monday, Ennis testified that he only smokes hand-rolled cigarettes at home. Whatley told the jury he would say police recovered the hand-rolled cigarette from his bedroom when they searched his residence.

Whatley reminded the jury that Lee Hodge, a former Auburn police detective, testified last week that some of the photos relating to this case were lost years ago due to a computer crash. On Tuesday, Whatley pointed out that there were photos of everything collected from the scene of the burn except for the hand-rolled cigarette.

About the burning scene, Ventiere said it made a perfect triangle between Ennis’ ex-girlfriend’s house and the bowling alley where he worked.

She reminded the jury that Hodge said he saw the hand-rolled cigarette and that it “looked cool.” She said Hodge was retired and asked what he would gain by lying.

“The defense says the police got this hand-rolled cigarette at his house, and that’s how we got it,” Ventiere said. “They say he was framed.”

Ventiere asked the jury to consider all the evidence presented and not just the hand-rolled cigarette.

Cleaning products were found in Ennis’ vehicle, but Whatley said when experts went to Slesinski’s trailer to inspect it, they found no cleaning residue. He said if bleach had been used it would have had a strong smell that people would have recognized, but no one mentioned a smell.

Venteire again pulled out all the items found in Ennis’ car to show the jury and said, “You’ve got a murder starter kit right here.” Several items were found in his vehicle, including fur-lined handcuffs, a knife, several bottles of cleaning supplies and a scrub brush.

While Whatley pointed out that the bleach would have a strong smell, Ventiere said police didn’t inspect Slesinski’s trailer until three days after the Saturday from which they were last heard.

Whatley reminded the jury that Ennis’ ex-girlfriend testified that she and Ennis fell asleep in her apartment while watching television the night after police took initial statements and before the vehicle Slesinski is found on fire. He also said it would have been impossible for Ennis to drive his car and Slesinski’s car from its trailer.

Ventiere reminded the jury that Ennis’ ex-girlfriend testified she was ‘the biggest sleeper you’ve ever seen’, referring to Ennis possibly leaving and returning before waking up the next morning .

In response to Ennis managing two vehicles, Ventiere mentioned that he could have walked along the train tracks. She drew a diagram that showed the tracks were close to the Slesinski trailer park, the scene of the car fire on Dekalb Street, and the Emily Avenue residence where Ennis stayed.

“If you’re a 25-year-old and you just killed a girl, 6 or 7 miles on the train tracks, that’s nothing,” Ventiere said. “And you know what else that brings to light? Why he felt it was so important to talk about his story of burying money near train tracks. “They want you to convict him for pure speculation.”

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