Sonntag, 1. Mai 2016

UPDATE: Miriam Conrad's cross-examination of FBI photographer Michelle Gamble

- by Woody Box

This is the continuation of an article from April 2015 where I featured the curious questioning of FBI photographer Michelle Gamble by defense lawyer Miriam Conrad. The article was solely based on twitter accounts out of the courtroom, and therefore it had to cope with sketchy citations and unavoidable uncertainties.

Now that the transcript of the respective trial day (March 30, 2015) has been published at last - you can read Gamble's complete examination here -, it is possible to check my presumptions at that time in the light of the full testimony. It turns out that they are confirmed for the most part and there is no reason to withdraw them.

In the article, I observed:

- Conrad makes Gamble admit that an overhead diagram of the Forum with circles indicating the position of people on the sidewalk does not show all people who were there, i.e. that the diagram omits some people. Gamble also admits that the prosecution told her to do so.

- Conrad asks Gamble for the distance of Dzokhar to the bomb when it went off, which Gamble is unable to answer.

- Conrad points out that on the Forum video some people "moved around a bit" after the first blast, which is confirmed by Gamble.

I stated that Conrad's questions look cryptic, incoherent and not expedient for the common observer, and that she behaves as if she is aware of other footage not compatible to the government's material. This impression is confirmed by the actual testimony - and it is all the more true for the re-cross examination which has not been covered by any tweets at the trial. Here's the relevant part, right at the end:

In an apparently spontaneous decision (she could have done it in the first cross-examination), Conrad pulls out a photo of the second bomb site from 2:37 pm, 12 minutes prior to the blast. The photo shows a man and a woman in the vicinity of the Richard family. Conrad asks Gamble if these two persons are still there in another photo at 2:48, one minute before the blast (she probably refers to exhibit 1575). Gamble's "nonverbal response" indicates that they are not there anymore. At this point Conrad stops her questioning abruptly, and Gamble is excused. 

So two people were standing beside the Richard family at 2:37, and they were gone at 2:48. This doesn't look very exciting: they must have walked away in the meantime. Where did Conrad want to get at with such an apparent meaningless question? Why did it deem her so important that she introduced a new piece - exhibit 3138 - into evidence?

The jury and the public certainly had no use for it. So it is obvious that Conrad's addressee were the witness and/or the prosecution. As I wrote in my previous article: This cross-examination looks rather like a little veiled message of strength to the government than a closing address for the second bomb site complex. This assessment is all the more true for the re-cross examination.

To put it more specific, what's at stake here is the photographic evidence of the second blast. As I said already, Conrad behaves as if she is aware of other footage not compatible to the government's material. Or she happens to have spoken with the man and the woman in the 2:37 photo and they remember differently than the photos suggest. 

The defense filed a motion for acquittal on the same day, based on insufficient evidence. In this case insufficient evidence seems to equal tainted evidence. I have questioned the genuineness of the Forum video multiple times (see here, here or here). These doubts have now to be expanded to some of the photos collected by the prosecution and presented at the trial.

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