Jurors heard closing arguments on Tuesday in the murder case of Diana Branchfield — an accused prostitute who allegedly shot a truck driver in August 2007.
Branchfield, 47, sat silently as her attorney, Nancy Miller, went over the evidence presented in the two-day trial. Miller reminded jurors that while her client may have lived on the fringes of society because of her profession, it did not make her guilty of murder.
Branchfield is accused in the death of John Beflance, who had been found with a gunshot wound to his chest inside his 18-wheeler on North Lumpkin Road. She was arrested in April 2008, and prosecutors allege that Branchfield set up the robbery that left Beflance dead.
“If she was in the truck that night, why wasn’t there any fingerprints?” Miller asked. “Somebody’s fingerprints were there, and we don’t know who.”Miller also pointed to what she called inconsistencies in testimony, saying a witness heard a man screaming while Branchfield said she screamed. Branchfield also could describe Beflance’s truck, because she had been inside it before, but couldn’t describe his clothes the night he died.
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Two witnesses claimed Branchfield told them about that night and testified that the shooting was either a ricochet, a drug deal gone bad or an accidental shooting, Miller said.
Branchfield’s attorney also said $400 was charged to a credit card of Beflance’s after his death, but no evidence tied that expenditure to Branchfield.
“This whole story is like an awful nightmare,” Miller said. “The stakes are so high. I’m asking you to give every consideration.”
Sadhana Dailey, assistant district attorney, said the defense’s argument asked jurors to disregard the evidence and let the defendant go free.
“‘Regardless that she’s admitted to this, we want you to let her go,’” Dailey said. “She knew where he was killed. She knew he was killed sitting in his truck.”
Dailey pointed to a video interview Branchfield gave police, adding that Branchfield also told two friends about that night.
“The defendant said, ‘We took the money out of his pocket,’” Dailey said.
Miller referred in her argument to Branchfield asking police during the interview “did I do good?” and questioned why someone would ask that if the statement were the truth.
“She wants to know whether the police believe the lies she’s telling as well as the truth she’s telling,” Dailey said. “She wants to lie to minimize her role in it.”
Mario Williams, 28, was also initially suspected in Beflance’s death. A grand jury no-billed charges against him. Dailey said the only evidence against Williams came from Branchfield.
Jury deliberations continue today.