Thursday, 10:24 AM
Defense says case against Ayer twins built on 'foundation of sand'
By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff
Defense attorneys for two twin brothers from Ayer told a jury today during closing arguments that the manslaughter charges against their clients were based on shoddy work by a medical examiner, who admitted during trial that he botched the autopsy of a 19-year-old who died after a fight in 2005.
"If a thorough autopsy had been done, I suggest that Peter McGuane and his brother would not be sitting here today," defense attorney Stephanie Page told the jury today in Middlesex Superior Court. "They jumped to an easy conclusion without any facts."
Last month, prosecutors downgraded charges against McGuane and his twin brother, Daniel, from murder to manslaughter. They are accused of killing Kelly Proctor, 19, who died after a fight with the twins following a Fourth of July fireworks display in 2005.
William Zane, a state medical examiner, had ruled in 2005 that Proctor died as a result of brain swelling, which was caused by blunt-force trauma to the head. But in testimony at the trial last week, Zane said he had mistakenly determined that Proctor's brain had swelled, saying that the way the organ had been stored in a container between the time of Proctor's death had made it look as if it had swelled.
Attorney Edward P. Ryan, Jr., who is defending Daniel McGuane, said today that the prosecution's case was built on a "foundation of sand" and that jurors shouldn’t rely on Zane’s testimony when deciding whether to convict the brothers of manslaughter.
"In one word, Dr. Zane is unreliable," Ryan said.
Prosecutor Kate MacDougall told the jury that they could judge Zane harshly for his mistake but that didn't change the basic facts.
"Dr. Zane did not kill Kelly Proctor," she said. "Dr. Zane did not lie to the police. And Dr. Zane did not make up the injuries that Kelly Proctor had.
"Kelly Proctor did not die in a vacuum," MacDougall concluded. "He died immediately after he fought with Peter and Daniel McGuane."
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