An unidentified person allegedly stole jewelry from inside a home during a Skokie estate sale last week. The case is interesting because it raises a number of different issues that the prosecution will need to overcome if an arrest is made and charges filed, as well as many possible defense strategies to explore.
Proving Skokie Theft Case
At the outset, the prosecution faces an uphill battle in obtaining a positive identification of the alleged thief. In reference to the estate sale, individuals were no doubt going in and out of the home. Any forensic evidence found at the scene – such as fingerprints, clothing fibers, or other DNA evidence – cannot provide a smoking gun. Here, the suspect was “invited” into the home for purposes of the sale. Absent any forensic evidence tying the suspect to the scene, an eyewitness identification is strongly in doubt. With the family talking to dozens of people while trying to make sales, without any distinguishing characteristics on the suspect’s part, it will be difficult for eyewitnesses to testify with certainty that the suspect was present in the home.
Even if caught – for example, if a local pawn shop reports purchasing the stolen jewelry – it is difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect was the person who stole the jewelry. Without a positive identification or any forensic evidence tying him to the scene, there are any number of possible reasons the suspect could have come into possession of the jewelry. He could have purchased it from a different pawn shop, received it as a gift, or even found it discarded in a trash can or on the side of the road.
Skokie Defense of Theft
From the defense side, there are several issues to explore regarding the estate sale itself that could help cast doubt on the suspect’s guilt:
- Was there a “free” table at the sale? If there was, it raises the possibility that another attendee, or even a family member, mistakenly laid the jewelry on that table, leading the suspect to believe it was free for the taking;
- How many people were in charge of handling transactions? If there was more than one person handling sales, it is possible that the suspect actually paid for the item. Lack of communication between salespeople could cause the sale to not be properly recorded, thus leading to a misunderstanding that the item was stolen;
- Do any of the people running the estate sale carry a criminal history of theft or similar crimes themselves? It is possible one of the salespeople simply pocketed the money from the sale and reported it as stolen to cover his tracks;
- Is there animosity among the family members set to inherit the estate? Proceeds from the estate sale are deposited into the estate and used to pay estate bills before they are ultimately distributed to the heirs. If there was a disagreement amongst family members as to who should receive the allegedly stolen piece of jewelry, a decision of the majority of the heirs would win. A disgruntled family member who wanted the jewelry may have pocketed it and concocted the theft story to deflect blame.
Each of these scenarios would cast serious doubt on the defendant’s guilt, and are all avenues that David L. Freidberg would explore in working to get the charges dropped or the case dismissed. Continue reading