A Million Dollar Murder
Disparaging the Victim
Speaking for the prosecution team in opening remarks, Arthur Huttoe set up the case in black and white: The motive for this murder was a personal hatred of the deceased by Melvin Lane Powers and a sordid, illicit love affair between the deceaseds wife, Candace Mossler, and her sisters son, Melvin Lane Powers.
Jurors shifted nervously.
Huttoe said that when Jacques Mossler sacked Powers and booted him from the mansion, the young man told him, Ill be back and you will regret this the longest day of your life.
Other defense attorneys used opening statements to zero in on flaws in evidence, even before it was presented. Yes, Powers palm print was found in Mosslers Key Biscayne apartment, they noted, but so were 26 finger- and palm prints that had not been identified. And the source of a dyed black hair found in the right palm of the victim also had not been accounted for.
When his colleagues had finished, Percy Foreman slowly unfurled his angular body from behind the defense table. True to form, he lit into the victim. Foreman understood that Mel and Candy would be judged harshly by the jury. He tried to trump any shock the jurors felt about incest by introducing another titillating sexual detail: Jacques Mossler was a homosexual, Foreman declared, and this forced his poor wife to seek companionship elsewhere.
This provided Foreman with a strawman suspect - a forsaken homosexual lover, perhaps with dyed black hair, who was so emotionally overwrought he stabbed Mossler 39 times.
Foreman said dozens of people had real or imaginary justification to murder the buccaneer businessman. But he saved most of his bluster for the homosexual angle. He promised to call witnesses who would lay bare the secret erotic lifestyle of the millionaire.
Prosecutors spent three weeks presenting their case against Mel and Candy. Evidence against Powers was formidable - fingerprints, the rented automobile, blood.
Judge Schulz hobbled prosecutors by refusing to allow as evidence a nine-page letter that Powers wrote to Candy from prison. Candys diary also was ruled inadmissible. But a number of witnesses testified to the couples sexual relationship, including two men who recounted Powers bragging about his sexual grip on Candy.
Gerstein and his colleagues Huttoe and Kogan made a feasible murder case against Powers, although the evidence against Candy was purely circumstantial. Then they went too far.