Final Trial Preparation: The Emergence of the Prosecutor's Strategy
The final weeks leading up to the trial were incredibly hectic. Decisions had to be made about what evidence to present, which witnesses to call, and what strategy to follow. In the end, Mason and his trial team decided on a simple strategy. Consistent with the original trial, all of the key witnesses and evidence would be introduced and the motive for the murder would be explained. The narrative was simple—and awful: Marilyn and Sam's marriage was strained; there was a great deal of discord, frustration, and animosity that ended in murder. All of this was consistent with the State's assertion that this was a staged burglary designed to conceal a domestic homicide. In addition, forensic science and technology would provide the superstructure. This time the assertions of Dr. Kirk and the bevy of new experts for the Sheppard Estate would be aggressively challenged; the Prosecutors would pit expert against expert and not only challenge the Sheppard team's findings but refute them and provide alternate explanations. Mason was confident that the expertise and credentials of his forensic scientists were unparalleled and that the logic of their findings would be compelling.
Mason and his team realized that they could not present all of the information they had obtained. The number of potential witnesses and exhibits was overwhelming. An all-inclusive approach would require a very long trial, which could confuse, fatigue, and bore the jury. Clearly, the evidence would have to be pared down. But who and what should— and could—be eliminated? In selecting witnesses, Mason and his staff agreed that their case could not rely unduly on merely reading the testimony from the previous trials; this approach would deprive the jury of