Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Gabrielle Macon started her closing argument Tuesday by brandishing the looped leather belt she believes Anthony Long used to strangle his wife.
The defendant had enough sense about him to know that when you put a belt around a neck this tight, you extinguish life, she told jurors. Wearing black gloves, she held up a loop the size of a mans fist.
He had to watch her die. This is worse than pulling a gun. This is up close and personal. She had to lie there and think about her impending death.
Anthony Long, charged with first-degree murder, clasped his hands under the defense table as Macon spoke about the death of his wife, Sonia Long. Two of Sonia Longs family members walked out of the courtroom, crying. One woman muttered Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, as the details of the 32-year-old womans death were recounted.
This morning, jurors will begin deciding Anthony Longs fate. He is accused not only of strangling his wife, but also of sexually assaulting her and stabbing her new boyfriend afterward.
On Tuesday afternoon, attorneys for both sides presented closing arguments to jurors.
If this case were based on sheer emotion alone, this case would be over before it started, said defense attorney Alec Carpenter.
He has argued that his client was mentally impaired because of an abusive childhood and a bad reaction to the antidepressant Wellbutrin.
His background is not in any way an excuse for taking someones life at all, Carpenter said of his client. What happened to Sonia was horrible. But what happened to Tony was pretty horrible too.
Jurors have to decide whether Long is innocent, or guilty of first- or second-degree murder. They also have to determine what charge applies to Longs alleged assault of Roderick Phillips, Sonia Longs new boyfriend, who was stabbed. Lastly, theyll have to determine whether they believe Anthony Long sexually assaulted his estranged wife.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Anthony Long would spend the rest of his life in prison.
Mental health dispute
From the outset, attorneys have haggled over Anthony Longs mental state at the time of the killing. Was he capable of premeditative and deliberative thought, or was his mind addled by prescription drugs and years of mental, emotional and sexual abuse?
Earlier Tuesday, Nicole Wolfe, a forensic psychiatrist who works for the state of North Carolina, testified that she believed Anthony Long did not have diminished mental capacity when he killed his wife in August 2007.
He knew that they were having a conflict. He knew that he was choking her when he was choking her, Wolfe told jurors.
Wolfe took the stand as a rebuttal witness after another psychiatrist testifying for the defense told jurors just the opposite on Monday that Anthony Long was mentally impaired in the days leading up to his wifes killing.
The defenses psychiatric expert, Moira Artigues, told jurors on Monday that Anthony Long had been tied to a bed and beaten with belts and electrical cords as a child. And, at one point, Artigues testified, his mother pimped him out to men.
All this contributed to childhood post-traumatic stress disorder that changed Anthony Longs brain and sparked a lifetime of substance abuse, Artigues said. She also criticized the treatment Anthony Long received at Carolinas Medical Center Randolph, which houses an emergency room for psychiatric patients.
In presenting the case against Long last week, Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones called Sonia Longs killing a real-life human tragedy.
The Longs met in 1998, and within a few months, they had moved in together. They soon began having problems and separated several times. When Sonia became pregnant, they married in June 2000. Their first daughter was born in September, and a second daughter in November 2001.
In interviews from jail, Anthony Long has told the Observer they lived apart more than they lived together.
The relationship disintegrated, and Sonia Long got pregnant by Phillips, who was the first person to take the witness stand last week.
In August 2007 she sought a restraining order and moved to a battered-womens shelter just days before she was killed, Jones said.
Phillips and Sonia Long came in contact with her estranged husband because she had a lead on a new apartment and needed to get her childrens birth certificates and Social Security cards to complete the application.