Murder trial of Delaware lawyer goes to the jury

Capano is accused of killing lover, dumping her body

January 14, 1999|By Jean Marbella | Jean Marbella,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

WILMINGTON, Del. -- In a marathon finish to a 12-week trial, the jurors who will decide whether Thomas Capano is guilty of killing his young lover were sequestered last night after more than eight hours of closing arguments by prosecution and defense attorneys.

"Ultimately, this case is about control. Who was going to control Anne Marie Fahey?" prosecutor Colm Connolly told jurors, wrapping up a case in which he portrayed the wealthy, politically connected Capano as a master manipulator who killed the 30-year-old gubernatorial aide when she refused to continue their affair.

`Rules of law'

"The defendant wanted Anne Marie Fahey to play by his rules, not her rules. Well, there are rules, and we all have to play by them," he concluded after speaking for nearly four hours. "There are rules of law."

Capano's lead defense attorney, Joseph Oteri, agreed in his similarly lengthy closing argument that there are rules, citing the rule of reasonable doubt.

"That is what makes us different from the rest of the world. That's why we're so proud of being Americans," Oteri said. "There is reasonable doubt. There is serious reasonable doubt."

Oteri said the prosecution's case was based on testimony that was bought with deals in which two of Capano's brothers and another mistress were offered immunity in exchange for their cooperation. Quoting the late attorney Edward Bennett Williams, he said there are still things you can't buy, and truth is one of them.

"You can buy and bargain for testimony," Oteri said, "and that's what the government did."

Longtime mistress Deborah MacIntyre, 48, said she agreed to Capano's request that she buy him a gun in May 1996, a month before Fahey disappeared. Gerry Capano said he helped his older brother dispose of a body by dumping it into the ocean on June 28, 1996, the day after Fahey was last seen alive, while she was dining with Capano.

Capano and his attorneys said MacIntyre killed Fahey. The older woman had waited for 15 years for Capano to leave his wife and marry her, only to find him at home one night with Fahey, Oteri said. She started waving a gun around, threatening to kill herself, and when Capano tried to stop her, the gun went off accidentally, killing Fahey, Oteri said.

Body never found

Since Fahey's disappearance -- her body has never been recovered -- the case has drawn intense interest in Wilmington, a city of 72,000 where many know at least one of the figures involved, and elsewhere.

The trial produced revelations about affairs carried on by Capano, 49, a one-time prosecutor and chief counsel to a previous governor; about the troubled life of Fahey, an aide to Gov. Thomas R. Carper; and about the damage to families and careers.

"You're all from the Wilmington area," Oteri told the jury. "You know there's no such thing as a secret in Wilmington."

The overheated courtroom was crowded with family members and spectators. Capano's former wife and their four daughters, ages 12 to 18, squeezed in, one sometimes sitting on another's lap. His moth- er, sister and a brother also looked on.

The Faheys crowded their side of the courtroom, as they have ever day of the trial.

The jurors seemed fatigued as the session stretched into the night.

The closing arguments by Connolly and Oteri left jurors with a dizzying swirl of conflicting information.

Connolly portrayed Capano as enraged that Fahey was trying to extricate herself from an affair that began in January 1994, while he was still married to his wife, Kay, and still involved with MacIntyre.

In the months before her death, Connolly said, Fahey was increasingly in love with a new boyfriend, Michael Scanlan, an executive with MBNA, and was hoping to marry him, Connolly said. Yet Capano continued to call her and ply her gifts and money, he said.

Fahey was telling friends and psychologists that Capano was stalking her, Connolly said. She was working at being more assertive with Capano, he said.

`She asserted herself'

"On June 27, she asserted herself," Connolly said, "and the price she paid was being killed."

Calling Capano's version of Fahey's death "ludicrous," Connolly attempted to pick apart the defendant's own testimony.

Oteri characterized the prosecution's case as "absurd." Capano was not a control freak who manipulated Fahey, he said, but rather was a lover-turned-friend who sought to help her.

Oteri went through a series of affectionate e-mails that the couple exchanged in the months before her death, which he said spoke volumes more about the relationship than any testimony.

"They tell you exactly what Tom Capano felt about Anne Marie Fahey and, more importantly, what Anne Marie Fahey thought of him in her heart of hearts. They were good friends."

Oteri agreed that Capano had lied in the 2 1/2 years since Fahey's death, telling the truth only before the jury. But that lying was to protect MacIntyre, the woman he loved but who betrayed him with lies designed to protect herself, Oteri said.

Oteri said prosecutors never provided any witnesses who could testify about where MacIntyre was the night that Capano said she accidentally shot Fahey.

A defense witness, a neighbor who said that in late June 1996, she saw MacIntyre drive wildly into her driveway and tumble out of the car with a loud, anguished sob.

Defendant quiet

Capano, once chief of staff of the city of Wilmington and a member of commission named to deal with the prison system that has been his home since his arrest more than a year ago, sat mostly silently at the defense table.

"Lift the pain and anguish, the humiliation, the ostracizing, the suffering for Tom Capano and his family," Oteri told the jurors. "And when you do, justice will have triumphed.

Pub Date: 1/14/99

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