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Costs shouldn't stop third Oxley murder trial


I have heard many people lately suggesting that St. Lawrence County Prosecutor Nicole M. Duve should cut her losses and not try for a third time to convict Wayne T. Oxley Jr. on a murder charge.

It is a fairly basic cost-benefit argument they make: It costs a lot of money to have a trial and she already had two chances. It is not worth a third try.

There are times when I am a big fan of simple solutions. This isn't one of them.

I don't think Ms. Duve can afford not to try again.

Somebody killed Bernard A. Trickey Jr. with a baseball bat. Ms. Duve believes the evidence shows it was Oxley. It's her job to win a conviction.

Remember that she did not lose the first two cases. Twelve jurors agreed after hearing the evidence in the first trial that Oxley killed Trickey. An appellate court - which decides procedural things and not guilt or innocence - overturned the decision.

The second trial ended after only eight of 12 jurors said they agreed that Oxley was the killer. Majority doesn't rule when it comes to criminal justice.

It is impossible to know what caused those four jurors to say they had doubt it was Oxley who took the fatal swings that night in Ogdensburg in 2005. Presented with the same evidence, eight said "yea" and four said "nay." That's not enough to convict and it's not an acquittal. It is what it is - a mistrial.

If Ms. Duve walks away now, she would effectively be saying she is willing to accept non-resolution of a murder case to save the county a few bucks.

Somebody killed Bernard Trickey. She believes the evidence shows it was Wayne Oxley. I don't see how she can let cost get in the way of seeking a conviction.

I wonder about those folks who want to put a price tag on justice - or a life, for that matter. Would those who say don't waste money on a third trial feel the same way if all the circumstances were the same - an overturned guilty verdict followed by a mistrial - but the victim was a Sunday school teacher who regularly volunteered at the animal shelter and visited nursing homes just to provide company to some old people he didn't even know?

I doubt it. These same people would likely be clamoring for Ms. Duve to continue her quest at all costs so the killer of such a fine person would be punished.

None of the cast of characters in this drama were ever going to be invited to high tea at the MacAllaster House with the St. Lawrence University president. Drinking. Drugs. A violent death. By all accounts, a rough crowd. And somebody in this crowd killed Bernard A. Trickey Jr.

Ms. Duve believes the evidence shows it was Wayne Oxley. Criticize her if she fails to support this belief by winning a conviction. You can also criticize her if she considers the cost of a trial and decides against trying again.

But you cannot fault her if she decides to seek conviction for a third time. That's her job. This is not about money. It is about justice.

It is that simple.

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