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October 25, 2011

Cobb murder trial closing arguments

PRYOR — The photo of Mike Cobb’s burned body is barely recognizable as human.

Mayes County Assistant District Attorney Chuck Ramsey used it to begin his closing in the first-degree murder trial of Wendy Cobb Tuesday.

“This is what the defendant was banking on,” Ramsey said. “She wasn’t there. She went to elaborate measure to make sure she wasn’t there and she could prove it.

“Who keeps receipts from Braum’s? Years later? You don’t unless you know they are going to establish your alibi.”

Ramsey told the jury the law says all parties concerned in the commission of a crime are equally guilty, whether they are present at the scene or not.

“The principals are equally guilty. Anyone who advises or encourages the commission of the crime.

“She asked Nick to find someone to kill Mike Cobb. When he didn’t find anyone, she convinced him to do it. She furnished him (with weapons) and took him to the house.

“All I have to prove is she advised or encouraged — but look what I’ve proved instead. Did she advise or encourage him? You bet ‘cha. She provided him with the getaway vehicle. Wendy Cobb is just as guilty under this evidence as Nicholas Shires is, as if she swung the baseball bat.”

Ramsey said Wendy’s motive was money. She stood to collect $1.2 million from insurance.

“Mike predicted his own death,” Ramsey said. “He told everybody. He was a man protecting his kids and it cost him his life.”

Michael Cobb’s murder was committed April 28, 2009. Ramsey said phone records show 2,416 text messages between Wendy Cobb and Shires from April 1 to April 27, 2009. The day of the murder there were 33 texts from 9:26 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then the text messages stop.

“Because they’re together,” Ramsey said.

From 8:23 p.m. to 9:36 p.m., the text messages resume. There are 27 from Wendy to Shires. “She knows it should be done and she’s trying to find out if it is.”

With all this texting and calling, Ramsey said, when Wendy gets the call telling her the house is on fire, there is no call to Mike until 23 minutes later.

Defense attorney Paul Brunton told the jury to put aside prejudice and bias and look at the case with an open mind.

He said the burn report disputes Shires’ testimony. “Shires said he poured gas all over the house. But the dog only hit on the master bedroom inside.”

Brunton said the blow to the head which caused Mike’s death could not have been made on the run as Shires claimed. He said to make a hit that solid, a person would have to be standing still on both feet and Mike would also have to be standing still.

He said the watch found on the scene had on DNA on it, so there is no way to tell if it was Mike’s. “Shires said he didn’t have one. It had to be someone else’s watch.

“Donnie Baldridge said he saw a white dually sitting at the deer barn when he came to the scene. Nobody got out. Nobody came to help. The truck leaves when Baldridge heard the sirens.”

“Mrs. Callahan said the dually passed her house about the time she heard the sirens. Fire Chief Rick Howard passed the truck on his way in.

“There is a vehicle at that scene involved in the death of Michael Cobb. I don not believe Mike Cobb would run from Nick Shires.

“The bat is clean. There is no evidence on it. We don’t know if the bat photographed at the scene was the murder weapon.

“James Garner said Robert McCright drove a white dually.

“Nick was high, had no money and had just got out of jail. That he was waiting for hours in the house doesn’t make sense. I think somebody delivered Nicholas Shires to that house later in the way. I think it was the driver of that white truck. I think there were three people at the scene.

“There was no follow-up on that white truck.

“According to his best friend’s testimony, Mike would not bypass the deer pen without feeding unless he saw something at the house. I submit that was not Nick Shires, but his cohorts. When Mike confronted them, Nick hit him from behind.”

Brunton theorized Shires and accomplices were robbing the house when Mike arrived. He said they were loading electronics into the white truck.

Brunton told the jury a summary of the text message between Wendy and Mike is part of the evidence. “I urge you to read that. Nicholas Shires is trying to convince Wendy he was not at the scene.

“There’s no doubt there were marital difficulties. People say things they regret when divorces are going on.

“There is no evidence the bat in the picture had anything to do with the crime. What happened to the one that did?”

Brunton said Shires has totally disregarded the mothers of two of his children.

“It wasn’t Wendy Cobb doing the using, it was Nicholas Shires.”

Brunton said the testimony of Ken and Janelle Fox (Shires’ mother and stepfather) is not credible because she is a drug user and “Ken had the motorcycle in his garage the day before the murder.

“James Garner said Ken’s truck brought Nick to his house (the night of the murder).

“Nick never said Wendy put him up to it until Jan. 4 of this year when he decided to make a deal for “one of the most heinous homicides I’ve ever seen. There’s no better incentive to lie. He’s already admitted he’s a liar and a perjurer.

“There’s no independent evidence she put the gas there. No evidence the bat even did the crime.

“I submit there is more than meets the eye to this case. There’s the white truck. She said some really stupid things. Shires has been in jail since June. Plenty of time to concoct his story. There is not one single piece of evidence to prove Nicholas Shires’ testimony is believable. No proof except the testimony of a convicted felon, murderer and everything else. No reasonable juror in this county or any other would rely on the testimony of Nicholas Shires to put someone in jail for life.”

In Ramsey’s rebuttal, he said “Mr. Brunton’s theories, while rather interesting, are not evidence.

“We’re making a big deal out of the white truck. Why are we doing that? To confuse the jury. There is no evidence a truck was driven by McCright or Dustin Shires. There is no evidence that truck was involved. There is no evidence of theft. This truck wasn’t involved in anything. They are trying to take your focus away from Wendy Cobb.

“There as no blood on the watch because he was hit on the head. There was blood on his cap.

“The defense has subpoena powers. They could’ve brought Dustin or McCright to court, but he didn’t because he knew what they’d say.

“Cell phone records and turnpike records prove Wendy picked Nick up the day of the murder.

“Yes, I made a deal with the devil. That comes up more frequently than you might imagine in my line of work. Which is worse, the man who kills a near stranger or the woman who murders a man with three minor children? What I have to decide is if it’s better to give Nicholas Shires 22 years and get her, too, or if it’s more important to give him a stiffer sentence. Just because I made a deal with Nicholas Shires doesn’t make him a liar.

“We didn’t make this stuff up. You can’t ignore Shires’ testimony because it’s supported by the evidence.”

Ramsey talked about the testimony of Haley, one of Mike’s twins who was six years old when he was murdered. “They were six when their mother had their father killed. Think about that.”

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