The same prosecutors, same defense lawyer and same defendant returned to Westchester County Judge Barbara Zambelli’s second-floor courtroom today to retry Werner Lippe for the alleged murder of his wife, Faith, nearly two years ago.
Lippe’s first jury was deadlocked, voted 7 to 5 for acquittal in February. This time around, jurors were specifically asked if they watched “CSI” or similar TV shows, since there is no body, no witnesses and no forensic evidence in the case.
Assistant District Attorney John O’Rourke, who gave closing arguments in Lippe’s first trial, opened for the people today. That likely will mean ADA Christine O’Connor will summarize. Veteran defense lawyer Andrew Rubin continues to represent Lippe, who is approaching his second year at the Westchester County jail, where he has been remanded since his Oct. 30 arrest.
O’Rourke, taking a piece of Rubin’s opening argument from the first trial, said Lippe didn’t have to be “Superman” to burn his 49-year-old wife’s slender body to ash on Oct. 3, 2008 and dispose of the remains without leaving a shred of evidence. Rubin countered with another image, saying Lippe was no “evil genius” and was not responsible for his wife’s disappearance.
Lippe’s confession to his wife’s murder was another point of contention between the lawyers, with O’Rourke saying it was proof of his guilt and Rubin saying it was proof that Lippe was coerced into making up an outlandish story so that an old friend, who was working with police, would leave him alone.
The trial is expected to continue Wednesday and last for three weeks. The jury consists of seven men, five women and five alternates.