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Closing arguments in murder trial

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Closing arguments in murder trial
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After seven days of testimony, attorneys in the Corbin Whyte murder trial made their closing arguments. The Ithaca man is accused in the 2010 shooting death of Paul Garcia. YNN’s Tamara Lindstrom has been following the case, and tells us what lawyers said in their final remarks to the jury.


ITHACA, N.Y. -- Is it cold blooded murder, or a case of mistaken identity? In his closing argument, defense attorney James Baker questioned the credibility of witnesses who say they saw Corbin Whyte digging through Paul Garcia's pockets just after Garcia was shot in Ithaca's Maple Hill apartment complex.

Baker said police targeted Whyte from the beginning, ignoring other suspects. Whyte was charged with murder while, Baker said, the true identity of the shooter remains a mystery.

"That's the problem that's created when the police start their investigation with a conclusion in mind and then look for evidence that supports that conclusion," said Baker.

Baker said a neighbor's testimony points to another shooter.

"The last thing she heard before that gunshot was 'Nicky, Nicky, Nicky, I'll have it for you in the morning.' Bang," said Baker.

But the prosecution pointed to witness' testimony, DNA evidence, and phone records they say placed him at the scene.

"At 1:53 and 1:54 a.m., two calls went from Paul Garcia's phone to Corbin Whyte's phone. Within minutes of those calls, Paul Garcia was shot and mortally wounded. Dying in the parking lot of the apartment complex between the two houses those two men were affiliated with," said Andrew Mcelwee, assistant district attorney.

Mcelwee said Whyte killed Garcia, or acted as an accomplice in retaliation for Garcia robbing him of drugs and money earlier in the evening. He said Whyte's attempt to hide his clothes and weapons proves his involvement.

"Mr. Whyte's actions afterward demonstrate his involvement in the crime, his consciousness of guilt, his guilty mind in removing all items that people may have seen in that parking lot crime scene. All items that he thought may have been associated with or tied to Paul Garcia's death," said Mcelwee.

This is the second time the case has gone to trial. Last time, it ended in a hung jury after five days of deliberations. Now both sides sit and wait to see whether they've convinced the jury of Whyte's guilt, or cast a reasonable doubt over his involvement.

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