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By Weston Phippen
It was 10 a.m. Prosecutor Warren Granville had just concluded with the first part of his final argument.
Granville had forcefully told the jury why it must find Jimmy Robison guilty.
The lawyers in the crowded, 11th-floor courtroom of Judge Norman Hall nodded to each other. Granville's argument had been first-rate.
Judge Hall glanced toward the defense table. His face betrayed no emotion.
"Mr. Henze," Judge Hall said in his resonant voice. The judge did not have to say more.
Defense attorney Tom Henze took a deep breath. Then he rose from his chair and carefully adjusted his tweed sport coat.
Slowly, Henze walked toward the jury box. He was about to begin the most difficult closing argument of his 20-year legal career.
For five days, Henze had been pondering what to say. He was thinking about it all the time. He worked on it in his office and at his two-story brick home on Manor Drive, just a ten-minute drive from the courthouse.
But he realized there was no way to commit all the information and the turns of phrase to memory.
These days, some lawyers videotape themselves to see how their argument will look to the jury. Henze is still old-fashioned. He delivered portions of it to his long-suffering wife, Kathleen, at home.
He divided it into what he figured were manageable sections. First, he must convince the jury that the testimony of the prosecution's star witness, John Harvey Adamson, was not to be believed.
To do this, he must convince the jurors Adamson was too slick. Henze's strategy was to use Adamson's very expertise as a weapon to destroy his credibility. But in order to do this, Henze had to allow Adamson to appear to best him during the days that Henze conducted his cross-examination.
This is a hard thing for a lawyer to do. Given the choice, most lawyers would have insisted on winning the courtroom exchange with Adamson and losing the case. Henze allowed Adamson the Pyrrhic victory that lost the war.
Second, Henze had prepared a word picture of Robison's activities on the day and period of time he was supposedly taking part in the bombing at the hotel parking lot in central Phoenix.
To do this, Henze cited the testimony of other witnesses who swore under oath that Robison was far from the hotel parking lot.
Henze spoke until noon, when Judge Hall called for a luncheon recess. Henze came back after lunch to talk to the jury for still another hour. He spoke a total of three hours.
He finally cautioned the jury:
"Remember what Don Bolles said to the lady who came upon him as he lay there on the ground. He begged her to remember what he was saying, because he was not going to make it.
"He told her three things:
"Mafia . . . Emprise . . . Adamson.'"
All through Henze's argument, the eyes of Robison, 72, the man they call "Jimmy the Plumber," were riveted upon his back. The death penalty was always on Robison's mind. The words of Henze were the only thing that was keeping him from that terrible date with fate.
This was not the kind of trial upon whose outcome you place a friendly wager. The odds would have to be 1,000 to 1 for acquittal.
But, against the odds, the jury listened to Henze. That's not surprising. His closing arguments are always works of art. No one knows how to become one with a jury as Henze does.
Before a case is over, the jurors have become so boggled by his folksy approach that they can't wait to invite him to the next family picnic.
No matter what crime his client is accused of, Henze can give a jury cause to find reasonable doubt. What he needs from the defendant is the ability to appear friendly and nonthreatening.
Several years ago, he represented Dr. Stephen Bieterman. The gynecologist was accused of having sex with nine patients while they were under light anesthesia and being examined in his office. The women all testified about their experiences as the doctor huddled uneasily at the defense table. He looked sneaky.
Despite the women's testimony, Henze's closing argument was so strong, it came close to hanging the jury. The doctor was found guilty, but was sentenced to only six years.
A former Marine pilot named Earl Morris shot his wife in the head and then covered the wound with a baseball cap and drove her body to San Diego. Once there, he put her body on the family boat and set it on fire.
Henze delivered another barn burner of a final argument for Morris. But Morris proved to be an arrogant witness with a jet-black toupee. The jury never warmed up to him. Morris got 25 years.
But there have been countless cases in which Henze's courtroom skills paid off. There was Keith Begay, a Navajo tribal official, who was captured on film taking bribes. Henze got him off. To this day, Begay and John DeLorean are the only two defendants captured on film taking money who have been known to gain acquittals.