The Michelle Le murder trial jury has been deliberating for a week. They must decide if Michelle’s killer Giselle Esteban is guilty of first degree murder or the lesser crime of manslaughter. The prosecution presented compelling evidence that the killer believed that Michelle was responsible for everything that was wrong with her life, planned Michelle’s murder and killed her in cold blood on the evening of May 17, 2011. The defense countered that Giselle Esteban snapped in a moment of passion, and that the result was Michelle’s untimely death.
I attended many trial sessions in support of Michelle’s friends and family. The body of evidence was overwhelming. There were hundreds of pages of text message transcripts, surveillance video and photo images, cell phone tower analysis, physical evidence, DNA evidence, and interview transcripts. In total they painted a chilling image of an obsessive and demanding young woman who had completely alienated family and friends. She had lost custody of her own daughter and was only able to visit through supervised visitations. A restraining order prohibited her from contact with the father of her child.
The defense dismissed the killer’s slanderous and unfounded accusations leading up to Michelle’s death. Instead they attempted to portray the killer as a loving mother whose family was torn asunder by promiscuity and the deceit of others. It was character assassination as defense. Michelle is dead, so she could not refute the charges. Her family, aghast and appalled by the litany of lies spewing forth from the defense could only sit stoically and absorb the psychological punches until the jury returned with the only conceivable verdict.
It has been a week. Michelle’s family, who has displayed such grace and dignity throughout sits twisting in the wind as the jury deliberates. They wonder what is taking so long. Was the jury attending the same trial and listening to the same body of evidence? If they base their decision upon the evidence presented in court can they come to any conclusion but the obvious?
I read the transcript of the initial interview between Hayward Police Inspector Fraser Ritchie and the suspect. It was conducted about 30-hours after Michelle disappeared. The suspect fingers herself as the last person to see Michelle. She says that it was a coincidence. Although she recounts distant events in detail, she doesn’t remember if she approached Michelle, if they spoke, if they argued, or if she entered Michelle’s car. The transcript presents a chilling window into the mind of a killer, as does the audio recording of the interview which includes the inappropriate and chilling laughter of a remorseless killer.
I don’t know what the jury is going to do, but at this point I am very concerned. I would prefer to see a hung jury rather than a lesser conviction. We all know that Giselle Esteban killed Michelle Le. It was thought out, telegraphed via text message over time, and executed in cold blood. The evidence is overwhelming. Anything less than a verdict of murder in the first degree will constitute a travesty of justice.