ESCH— With all evidence having been completed and submitted to the jury, both parties began their closing arguments on Friday, June 18 in the Trent Esch trial. Trent is facing three alleged felony charges of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and 1st-degree murder.
Michael Guinan, who represents the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, argued that Trent was so angry at Crystal Esch and resented her about kicking him off the land which he believed was rightfully his. Guinan also said that Trent blamed Crystal for his father’s death and for the mistreatment he believed to have received when he was young.
Guinan argued that Trent had decided he was going to negotiate with Crystal to get back the property he believed was his. He also noted that if Trent was going to negotiate, why did he take a gun? Guinan said that Trent purposefully violated the protection order, drove to the home, did not knock as he claimed, and walked into the home of Crystal who was afraid of him.
According to Guinan, Trent then became so angry after a statement by Crystal that he decided at that point to shoot at her 10 times, showing he premeditated killing her. He argued that Trent clearly had intended to kill her by showing up at her home with a loaded gun.
Guinan also pointed out that from Crystal’s perspective, Trent had been harassing her for years which was obvious due to the cameras that were placed on her home. On the day of the shooting, she sees the threat of Trent entering her residence and places herself between him and her grandchildren, and is ultimately killed.
Guinan stated that pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger is the worst thing someone can do to another human being. In Trent’s mind he had been wronged in every step of his life by Crystal, and, “In 30 seconds he got the relief he wanted.” He then asked the jury to find Trent guilty of 1st-degree murder.
James Davis, Trent’s attorney, argued this was not a complicated case and no one was trying to excuse what Trent did. It was argued the theory Guinan had put forward of the ‘evil stepmother was not true. He stated that what Trent did was wrong and criminal, but asked the jury to find Trent guilty of something he did do, not something he did not do.
Davis talked a lot about reasonable doubt and said if anyone on the jury had doubt, they could not find him guilty of 1st-degree murder. He argued that premeditation takes time and is not something that just happens. Davis said that premeditation is planning ahead such as a contract killing, executions, vendetta killings, etc., not something that is done in an instant and after a reaction from something that is said.
He also noted that there is evidence to suggest premeditation, but nothing to prove it. Davis argued that the State is trying to elevate manslaughter to 1st-degree murder. He also argued Trent was so intoxicated, the alcohol caused him to go beyond what a normal person would have done. He stated the use of alcohol is not a defense for the shooting, but it lowered his ability to think.
He concluded his argument, saying Trent never threatened Crystal and asked the jury to find him guilty for what he did do, not what he didn’t do.
Following arguments, the jury was read the instructions by Judge Karin Noakes and began deliberation at 12:02 PM.