On June 21, 2016, I appeared on Headline News’ “Nancy Grace” with Nancy Grace (@NancyGrace) and attorney Robin Vicker to comment on two legal cases in the press including the arrest of a UK man who attempted to take a police officer’s gun at a Donald Trump Rally in Las Vegas and a Louisiana Vice-Principal who has been charged with the murder of his alleged mistress and unborn child.
The “Attempted” Assassination of Donald Trump
Police arrested the 19-year-old after he attempted to pull a police officer’s gun from its holster inside a Las Vegas theater where Trump was holding a campaign rally.
Police said Michael Sandford, a Briton, struck up a conversation with a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer under the pretense that he was seeking to get an autograph. During the conversation, police said Sandford tried to pull the officer’s service weapon from its holster.
Other officers also assigned to provide security at the event were quickly able to detain Sandford and authorities said there was no further disruption to the event.
In the appearance, I commented on two issues in defense of Sandford. First, based on the known facts, I believe he should immediately submit to a psychological evaluation. The man seems off as he overstayed his tourist visa, was living out of his car and has no known whereabouts for some time. His actions and statements also call his sanity into question. A psychological examination may show that Sandford was acting under psychosis or delusions which may support a psychological defense to the charges and/or may show that he’s incompetent to stand trial.
Additionally, I also questioned whether Sanford had the requisite intent to murder. For someone to be convicted of attempted murder, a defendant must have the actual purpose to kill. While Sanford stated his intention was to kill Trump, I question whether he was actually going to commit the act or whether he just wanted his name in the media.
As a prosecutor, attempt cases are some of the most difficult to prove. The actor has not actually completed the crime and there is always the argument that if his true intention was to kill then why wasn’t it actually done.
Robert Marks Charged with Murder
Robert Marks has been charged with murder a week after the woman he was having an affair with vanished. Those charges came on top of charges of aggravated kidnapping and child desertion Marks faces for allegedly abandoning Washington’s 3-year-old in a parking lot near her vehicle.
In the appearance, I commented on two issues which I believe may be problems for the prosecution in this case. First, the prosecutor will rely on the victim’s 3-year-old daughter who allegedly observed the killing and articulated that Marks was responsible. Every witness’s credibility is at issue during a trial. The rigor of cross-examination is designed to challenge a witness’s account including their ability to observe, recall and articulate. While the 3-year-old may be a competent witness under the law, her age and inconsistencies will be great cross-examination material and may support an argument that she’s mistaken and/or should not be believed. Additionally, the circumstances of the child interview will surely be an issue. Younger children are subject to coaching and an investigator’s taint and influence will always be an issue when taking a young child’s statement.