Both sides looking for knockout punch in Starr brothers’ trial

Prosecuting and defense attorneys will deliver their closing arguments Tuesday morning.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 2:07 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTVY) - Closing arguments could turn into a courtroom slugfest, with prosecuting and defense attorneys getting a final chance to flex their cases in the Starr brothers murder-for-hire trial.

Those arguments are vital to the outcome because if there has ever been a case to rely on circumstantial evidence, this one is it.

Prosecutors allege that Jason Starr became increasingly frustrated with his former wife, an Enterprise school teacher. After a court ordered him to pay over $3,500 to support Sara Starr and the couple’s four children, he became so agitated that he hired his brother, Darin, to kill her.

Darin, who has a history of arrest, rode a motorcycle Jason bought him from Texas to Coffee County, Alabama, where on the morning of November 27, 2017, he lurked outside Ms. Starr’s home. When she walked out her door, prosecutors claim, he twice fired a 12-guage shotgun, striking her in the face and chest.

The problem for prosecutors Joshua Wendell and Chelsea Phillips is that they do not have a shred of physical evidence that implicated the Starr brothers. Instead, they are basing much of their case on money transfers to Darin through a third party in the weeks before Starr died.

Their closing arguments on Tuesday are vital to a conviction because it is their final and best shot at swaying jurors to return guilty verdicts, despite no murder weapon found and not a single eyewitness to the shooting.

However, defense attorneys can’t rely on a lack of physical evidence to get not-guilty verdicts for the Starr brothers.

Like their courtroom adversaries, they must impress the jury during their closing arguments, convincing them to ignore circumstantial evidence and focus on tangible evidence.

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