ATLANTA -- A prosecutor placed a doorbell in front of jurors yesterday, saying he wanted to show them how easy it was for a hit man allegedly hired by an Atlanta socialite's husband to get the woman's attention.
The hit man allegedly rang Lita Sullivan's doorbell, posing as a flower-delivery man, and shot her when she opened the door.
Prosecutor Clint Rucker rang the doorbell twice, and then told jurors in his closing argument that the evidence is overwhelming that James Sullivan paid Phillip Harwood $25,000 to kill Lita Sullivan.
''The doorbell rings loud," Rucker said. ''It rings clearly. In this case, it rings true."
As he gestured toward Sullivan in the courtroom, Rucker added: ''This man right here. He is responsible for the assassination of Lita."
Rucker said Sullivan, a Boston native, arranged the killing ''for no other reason than the almighty dollar." He said Sullivan wanted to avoid losing money and a Florida mansion in the couple's divorce.
But defense lawyer Don Samuel said in his closing argument that prosecutors have only circumstantial evidence.
He said there were several inconsistent statements by the state's two key witnesses, Harwood and his former girlfriend, Belinda Trahan.
Samuel asked jurors to use common sense and find Sullivan not guilty.
''The state's evidence in this case is insufficient," Samuel said.
Jurors will begin considering the case this morning.
Sullivan, 64, was captured in Thailand in 2002. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted in the death of his 35-year-old second wife.
She was fatally shot on the doorstep of her upscale town house on Jan. 16, 1987, by a man carrying a dozen long-stemmed pink roses.
Harwood, of Albemarle, N.C., is serving a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter and admitting that he killed Lita Sullivan. But Harwood denied on the stand Monday that he committed the murder, a blow to prosecution assertions that he was the hit man.
Harwood did testify that Sullivan paid him money to kill his wife. Harwood also testified that he was in a car nearby when he said the real hit man, a bartender he identified only as John, committed the killing.
In his closing argument, Samuel said there were inconsistencies in Trahan's testimony, including in 1998 when she told an investigator that Harwood never carried a gun. On the stand, Trahan said Harwood regularly carried a gun in his truck.
''When you tell a lie, it's always harder to remember what you said," Samuel said.
Samuel said the state tried to impeach the credibility of its own witness after Harwood said he didn't shoot Lita Sullivan.
''I don't know that it's ever happened before that the state calls its star witness and obliterates him, to the point where the defense has nothing left to say but, 'You stole our script,' " Samuel said.
Related charges against Sullivan were thrown out at a federal trial in 1992, but the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that double jeopardy does not prevent Sullivan from being tried again in state court.