BOSTON (Reuters) - A lawyer for the Boston man accused of murdering a toddler whose remains were found on a beach in 2015, sparking a months-long effort to identify "Baby Doe," told a jury that the girl's mother, and not his client, killed the child.
A lawyer for Michael McCarthy, 37, in his closing argument on Tuesday, said McCarthy's former girlfriend, Rachelle Bond, killed 2-1/2-year-old Bella Bond, saying his client was unaware of the child's death until he was accused by police.
Both sides focused on Bond's credibility, with defense lawyer Jonathan Shapiro noting that she had repeatedly lied to friends about her child's whereabouts in the months between the time a woman found the child's badly decomposed remains, sparking the search for "Baby Doe's" identity, and the couple's arrest in September 2015.
Shapiro noted that no forensic evidence tied McCarthy to the killing, with prosecutors leaning on Bond's testimony to prove that McCarthy punched the child to death and dumped her body in a channel on Massachusetts Bay. That testimony was untrue, Shapiro said.
"The story she told was clearly made up to cover her own guilt. It was a web of lies and a changing web of lies," Shapiro said.
Bond had told friends, neighbors and McCarthy that the girl had been taken by state authorities. McCarthy believed that assertion, Shapiro said.
"She explained to everyone that Bella was somewhere else," Shapiro said. "She lied to everyone and there is no doubt that her lies and her cover-up were convincing."
He noted that Bond gave varying accounts of the killing to police, changing the timing on when it occurred and whether she saw McCarthy hit the child.
McCarthy did not testify during his trial.
Assistant District Attorney David Deakin stood by Bond's testimony and noted that a friend of McCarthy's, Michael Sprinsky, testified that he had warned Bond about her boyfriend's temperament.
"The defense counsel threw out a challenge to say where's the evidence that he would do anything to harm a child? I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, ask Michael Sprinsky," Deakin recalled. "He said, 'You have to get away from him. He's crazy.'"
Bond, 41, pleaded guilty in February to being an accessory to murder after the fact and testified under a plea deal with prosecutors.
If found guilty of the most serious charge, first-degree murder, McCarthy will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Andrea Ricci