Closing statements in Liberty Street murder case followed by guilty verdict from jurors
Defense and prosecution attorneys delivered closing statements in a last attempt to persuade jurors to adopt their interpretations of the evidence from the July 24, 2018, murder of Raymond L. Morgan in his 111 Liberty St., Batavia, home.
After five days of the trial and three hours of deliberations, Richard D. Hanes was convicted of murder in the second degree this afternoon. The jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict to a suspense-filled courtroom packed with family members, legal counsel and law enforcement personnel.
The jury found that the defendant murdered Morgan with intent, meaning that Hanes did not need to have a motive or premeditate the murder to be culpable of the crime. The motive to commit the gruesome bludgeoning remained unknown at the conclusion of the trial.
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and defense attorney Frederick Rarick both said in their summations that the identification of the individual biking in surveillance video footage around the time of the murder was key evidence. Jurors rendered their decision soon after reviewing the footage.
“The biggest element of this case is the identification of Richard Hanes as the person riding that bike,” Rarick said in his closing statement. “You cannot speculate that what you see in the evidence is Mr. Hanes.”
Rarick also argued that Batavia PD conducted an improper, incomplete investigation and focused exclusively on Hanes as the suspect. Rarick said law enforcement “did not take fingerprints or DNA from other individuals because they were just interested in Mr. Hanes.”
“I think justice is served today,” Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said after the verdict was read. “The jury made the correct decision. All of the facts in this case pointed to a conviction.”
In his closing argument, Friedman relied on Hanes’s locations on the night of the murder to convince jurors that, in his words, “the digitally confirmed timeline is so tight — four minutes — there could not have been another suspect responsible for this crime.”
Friedman later expressed his appreciation to Batavia PD officers and investigators for the work and time they put into their investigations and testimony.
“It’s very reassuring to live in this community to know that that’s what happens when a crime like this is committed,” Friedman said outside the courtroom. “I’m confident that in some larger cities, this case wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near the attention it got here.”
Morgan’s family and friends responded emotionally as the foreperson delivered the guilty verdict today.
“Closure for the justice system, yes,” Peggy Brusie, Morgan’s former partner, said. “Not closure for what he took from us. We can never replace that. We can’t bring Raymond back.”
Judge Charles Zambito adjourned Hanes’s trial for sentencing at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 28 in Genesee County Court. Hanes faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison for his second-degree murder conviction.