Here is a prosecution opening statement example for an arson case. Mock trial students should study this attorney’s use of language as he paints the picture for the jury, and brings them back to the night in question.
Members of the jury talk to the evidence. Talia Escelera watched. She watched as her father the best friend, she watched as the person she’s referring to as her godfather. She watched and the person she knew lived with her father. She watched as Chad Wilson lit a For Rent sign on fire and threw it through his bedroom window. Ladies and gentlemen that fire ignited a devastating fire at 339 West 6th Street, Lowell. That fire consumed a three story building, six family home. It displaced six families, approximately 30 people, and resulted in firefighter Marc Poilier being taken by ambulance to the hospital for burn injuries he sustained when hot tires fell from the roof on his back and neck.
Why? Why did Chad Wilson do this? Ladies and gentlemen the commonwealth will prove to you that Mr. Wilson did that because the fight he had with Talia Escelera’s father Ramon. The fight because they were behind in their rent. Ramon was getting evicted and he told Mr. Wilson to get out. You’re going to hear about the daytime hours of July 8, 2008. We’ll hear that at the house, in the house I’m referring to, 339 West 6th Street, specifically the apartment called 1 left. So it was the first floor, left side of the building. You’re going to hear that Talia Escelera went to visit her father that day, Ramon. Ramon Escelera lived in the apartment first floor to the left. He lived there with his girlfriend Maria, Maria’s young infant son Ramon, and Chad Wilson. During the day on the 8th Talia will tell you she went out to the car with her father, Maria, and the baby. And at some point that afternoon around 2 o’clock she went back home and when she got, when they all got back home Annabelle Bonner was there. Annabelle Bonner is Talia’s mother, Ramon’s ex-girlfriend. They get along. Well they got along. They were all at first floor flat that afternoon. There was drinking. There was a slip-n-slide in the kitchen. There was arguing. There was arguing between the people in the apartment. There was arguing between the people in the apartment and the neighbors. Got to be quite the chaotic night. Who was there? Annabelle Bonner, her daughter Talia, Talia’s father Ramon, Ramon’s girlfriend Maria, and their infant son, and the defendant Chad Wilson. About 6 o’clock that night a person by the name of Dean Dumont came over. Mr. Dumont is the building manager at 339 West 6th Street and some other units that are owned by the same unit owners. Mr. Dumont went by and he was looking for Ramon. He was looking for Ramon because he needed to serve him with an eviction notice. He comes across Chad Wilson. He knows Chad lives there with Ramon. He said, “Hey do you have any money?” Chad didn’t have any money and said, “F-no! I’m outta here! I’m moving to Florida with my father.” And that was about 6 o’clock. Annabelle Bonner is going to tell you that she’s there with Ramon and Mr. Wilson get in a fight. And that about who is being evicted, get out, and that Mr. Wilson says, “Yeah. Watch what happens.” 11 o’clock that night. People have been drinking. People have been arguing all day. There’s been an argument between Ramon and Chad and Annabelle Bonner says, “You know what? It’s time to leave. I need to leave. Talia needs to get home.” She starts to leave out the front door of 339 West 6th Street. And as she’s going she’ll tell you that the defendant grabbed her arm and they both ended up tumbling down the stairs. Talia will tell you that she saw this happen. She was scared. She was crying. She ran across the street and you’ll hear testimony that there’s a bank across the street and that’s where Annabelle Bonner had parked her car. Talia ran across the street. She’s upset because of all of the fighting and her mother then finally comes over. Now the fighting’s outside. There’s fighting between Annabelle and Ramon. Mr. Wilson’s outside and there’s fighting between him and Ramon because of the incident of the falling down the stairs. Maria is outside at some point. There’s fighting. There’s yelling. You’ll hear that in the car across the street from 339 West 6th Street is Annabelle Bonner in the driver seat, her daughter Talia in the passenger seat, and Ramon is there. Ramon first goes to Talia’s side of the car and they move over to Annabelle’s and they’re fighting. Across the street is Chad Wilson, the defendant. He’s standing outside of 339 West 6th Street in front of the window to his room. You’ll hear testimony that that window is broken and that window is covered by either a sheet or a blanket, some sort of drapery to keep the air out of it. As they’re in the car that’s when Talia looks over and sees the defendant lighting a For Rent sign on fire. She sees him throw it in that broken window. Ms. Bar is going to tell you she doesn’t see that. She’s fighting with Ramon. The next thing she sees though is fire coming from Mr. Wilson’s room. Maria runs out of the house. Talia will tell that she then at some point saw the defendant coming out of the house and running towards Exetor Street which if you come out the front door of 339 West 6th is to the left. The fire starts. Low and behold in Mr. Wilson’s room. Talia, Annabelle, Maria then comes out and gets in their car. They leave. They are going to I believe it’s Ramon’s mother, Talia’s grandmother’s house. You’re going to get testimony that the fire department comes. The police come. When the police arrive the building, the flames are building up the back of the building. And you’ll hear testimony from the fire inspector that it’s his opinion the fire started in that front left bedroom, the bedroom belonging to Mr. Wilson. But because of the wind that night and the deal is that with windows open it went through the hall and up the back. Talia, Annabelle, Maria go to Talia’s grandmother’s house. She’s not there. They went back to the scene. Now when they get back to the scene the fire department is there. The police officer’s are there. And the police are attempting to determine what happened. They’re looking for witnesses. They attempt to talk to Annabelle and Talia. While they’re doing that Ramon’s there.
You’re going to hear a lot about in this trial and I don’t want to anticipate and that you’ll actually hear from Ramon. In fact Ramon that evening was placed under arrest. He was placed under arrest for disturbing the peace because when the police were attempting to speak with witnesses and ascertain what had happened in the middle of this chaotic scene, and you’ll hear that there were practically over 100 people out on the street on 6th while ablaze, he’s interfering. He doesn’t want the police talking to Annabelle. He doesn’t want the police talking to Talia. He’s placed under arrest. Annabelle and Talia go back to the police station. They get a statement as to what happened. The police learn as you’ll learn that Mr. Wilson was living with Ramon. There was a fight over getting evicted. And you’ll hear what Talia saw that night. While at the police station, the fire happens about 11:30, at 2:20 the police receive a call from Saints Memorial Medical Center and they learn there’s a person at Saints Memorial Medical Center that has burn injuries and soaking wet clothing. Detective Fennel will tell you that he went to Saints. He observed the defendant Chad Wilson. He observed he had burns to his face and to his arms and he took his clothes and the clothes were soaking wet. And anticipate you’ll hear in this trial from a fire investigator Robert LaBlanc. He will tell you that he came to the scene to investigate the fire. He looked through their residence. He determined that the fire likely began in that front bedroom, the defendant’s bedroom, and a mattress was dragged from the bedroom and wedged in a doorway. And as a result the fire was primarily the most damage to the kitchen area and then went up the back. At the end of this trial the common law is going to ask that you find Mr. Wilson guilty because he had the motive. He had the opportunity and he had the intention to set his room on fire. And as a result 339 West 6th Street in Lowell burned. And while fighting that fire Marc Poirier suffered injuries. Thank you.
Thank you for reading my mock trial blog! We will have more prosecution opening statement examples for mock trial students available in the weeks to come!