Professor Gwen Roseman Stern offered insights on two murder trials during an episode of “Law & Crime” that aired live on May 16.
Stern, director of the Trial Advocacy program, appraised the performance of prosecutors, defense counsel and witnesses in two murder trials covered on “Law & Crime,” an online trial network launched Dan Abrams, the chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News.
Stern predicted that the defense could have a tough time winning an acquittal for Timothy Jones, a South Carolina man being tried for killing his five children. Despite allegations that Jones had driven around with his dead children in his car for nine days and was diagnosed with schizophrenia, Stern said, there was evidence that he understood the criminality of his actions.
“Just because you’re schizophrenic and just because you’re psychotic doesn’t automatically mean that you can’t tell the difference between right and wrong,” Stern said. “Knowing that he left the scene where the murders were does go to consciousness of guilt.”
Stern also offered observations on the trial of Steven Bourgoin, a Vermont man accused of second-degree murder in the deaths of five teens killed when he drove the wrong way on a highway.
Bourgoin’s insanity defense could be successful, Stern said, since a forensic psychiatrist initially hired by the prosecution determined that the defendant was insane.
“That is not a good fact for the prosecution,” Stern said, adding that the psychiatrist provided credible testimony that prosecutors failed to undermine in their cross examination.
Stern, a is a former litigator who practiced with firms including Kline & Specter and White and Williams, where she tried numerous medical malpractice cases. In addition to directing the Trial Advocacy program, she teaches Introduction to Trial Advocacy, Advanced Trial Advocacy: Trials of the Century, Evidence and Depositions: Technology and Advocacy.