Crime

Jonathan Broyhill trial jury to consider 1st- or 2nd-degree murder

Defendant Jonathan Broyhill, left, enters Wake Superior Court after a break late Tuesday morning during the 10th day of testimony in the case. Closing arguments in the Jonathan Broyhill murder trial will begin Wednesday. Broyhill, 33, is charged in the slaying of Jamie K. Hahn and the attempted murder of her husband, Nation Hahn, in April 2013.
Defendant Jonathan Broyhill, left, enters Wake Superior Court after a break late Tuesday morning during the 10th day of testimony in the case. Closing arguments in the Jonathan Broyhill murder trial will begin Wednesday. Broyhill, 33, is charged in the slaying of Jamie K. Hahn and the attempted murder of her husband, Nation Hahn, in April 2013. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Throughout the past three weeks, prosecutors and defense attorneys have provided two different narratives for a 2013 stabbing inside a North Raleigh home that left a vivacious, much-admired political strategist fatally wounded and her friends and family grasping for answers.

On Wednesday, the jury for the Jonathan Broyhill trial could finally hear Judge Paul Ridgeway tell them it’s OK to go behind closed doors together and discuss details of a trial that has offered a portrait of a defendant who harbored many secrets and a young couple who tried to nurture him, unaware of his lies.

The trial storylines provided by Assistant District Attorney Doug Faucette and public defenders Joseph Arbour and Caroline Elliot have many similarities.

Both sides agree that Broyhill, 33, wielded the knife that fatally wounded Jamie Hahn, a 29-year-old political strategist with a wide circle of friends. That same knife left her husband, Nation Hahn, a rising star in the local Democratic party, with slash wounds on his hands so severe that he needed surgery.

Broyhill, a chronic liar who feigned many illnesses and pretended to have jobs he did not hold, knew Nation Hahn from Lenoir, their hometown. He was the best man at the couple’s 2009 wedding.

When the case goes to the jury, the judge will instruct jurors to consider first- or second-degree murder.

The prosecution and defense narratives diverge when they describe Broyhill’s state of mind as he held the 8-inch kitchen knife he had carried around in his backpack for eight days.

Prosecutors contend that Broyhill was intent on killing Jamie Hahn as questions grew about financial irregularities in a campaign account for former U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, who had contracted work from the company she founded.

The prosecution argues that Broyhill had been lying in wait for Jamie Hahn on April 22, 2013, and stabbed her to quiet her questions.

But the defense team contends that when Broyhill went to the Hahns’ home that afternoon, he was so dark, so troubled and so despondent that his intent was to harm himself, not others.

The jury of seven women and five men will hear attorneys from both sides stitch together testimony from 19 witnesses to make their points in closing arguments Wednesday.

Before the judge sent jurors home Tuesday so he and the lawyers could develop his instructions for the jury, the defense called its final three witnesses – Broyhill’s stepmother, his stepsister and a therapist who met with him several times in early 2012.

Broyhill’s mother testified briefly Monday about the strained relationship that developed between her and her son after she left his father.

On Tuesday, the witnesses testified about some of the illnesses that Broyhill pretended to have, offering a pattern of him picking up details from sicknesses that other members of his family suffered and fabricating similar symptoms of his own.

The therapist testified that Broyhill told her he had suffered sexual abuse as a child. He also told her he struggled with low self-esteem and sexual identity.

The defense was unable to call a prison psychiatrist to testify about four medications prescribed to Broyhill to treat anxiety, psychoses and depression he has suffered from while incarcerated and awaiting trial.

The judge said the defense team had not given prosecutors proper notice about the kind of testimony the psychiatrist would offer and had not given them an opportunity to have a psychiatric expert of their own.

Blythe: 919-836-4948;

Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

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