MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WDHN) – Federal prosecutors and defense teams for Jason and Darin Starr gave their closing arguments before they handed the case to the jury to deliberate.
A jury consisting of 12 people with 4 alternates, made up of 13 women and 3 men.
Federal prosecutor Joshua Wendell was the first to give his closing argument to the jury.
“Jason has the motive. Let me tell you why,” Wendell said to the jury.
Wendell is attempting to convince a jury that Jason paid his brother, Darin who lived in Texas, around $3,000 to kill Jason’s ex-wife Sara Starr in November of 2017.
In his closing, Wendell talked about what he thinks drove Jason to want to hire someone to kill his ex-wife.
Notes on the computer were believed to be Jason’s notes for a book he was thinking about writing called, “The Broken Wing”. The prosecution on Tuesday read a section of the notes to the jury where Jason was writing about how he didn’t want to pay for alimony and child support and said some derogatory things about women, which seemed to be pointed to his relationship with his wife/ex-wife Sara.
He then reminded the jury about the 7 payments made by Jason to a “third party”, that eventually made it into the hands of Darin.
7 payments that spanned from September 7-November 15. The next day, Darin made his trip to Alabama from Texas. Darin’s attorneys say it was to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with his family, but prosecutors believe he arrived in town, where on November 27 he shot Sara Starr 2 times with a shotgun.
Wendell also told the jury to remember the testimony of Lilani Mahler, the “third party” who helped send the money from Jason to Darin. He told them to remember that Darin cut ties with her once the last payment was sent. Even though Mahler had feelings for Darin, but those feelings weren’t reciprocated.
Jim Parkman, who represents Jason, says the payments stopped because Darin broke off the relationship with Mahler.
“He killed Sara Starr because he (Jason) paid him to kill Sara Starr,” Wendell said.
Wendell ended by telling the jury they believed Darin “executed” Sara, moved to the woodline behind Sara’s home, and drove back to Texas.
Prosecutors showed the video from a nearby barn that caught a motorcycle driving by, where prosecutors believe that was Darin leaving the scene.
Then when Darin was in custody in Texas, recorded phone calls retrieved by investigators show Darin, who was heard talking to family members, where he continually asked for someone to get in contact with Jason because Darin felt like Jason “owed” him and that his brother had money set aside for him.
Finally, Wendell asked the jury to reach a guilty verdict.
Parkman presented his closing argument after Wendell.
Where Parkman reminds the jury that there is a high burden of proof to find Jason and Darin guilty.
“The law doesn’t fit his facts,” Parkman said. “Plan and simple.”
On multiple occasions in the closing, Parkman continually said that they didn’t have the evidence to find his client or his brother guilty of murdering Starr and that there wasn’t a conspiracy to commit murder.
Parkman also rebuts Wendell’s claim that the divorce was the stressor by saying that there is nothing in the divorce decree that shows any hostility about the relationship.
Jason had to approximately pay Sara over 51% of his salary to Sara and their four kids for child support. Prosecutors feel that having to pay this money made Jason mad, Parkman said it didn’t ma,e him mad because two months after the divorce decree he received money from the VA, which would have been that 51% go down.
“Not one single person heard her(Sara) say that, ‘I am afraid of him(Jason),'” Parkman said.
Parkman stood up for Darin during his closing by saying that maybe he came to Alabama to be with his family for Thanksgiving and to be a good son to his mother.
Regarding the notes found on Jason’s computer for his book, Parkman says he doesn’t agree with what his client said, but that in all the writings he was just a man who was frustrated about having to go through a messy divorce and that there wasn’t one line in the notes, where he said he was going to kill her.
J. Carton Taylor, who did the closing argument for Darin talked with the jury about “beyond a reasonable doubt”, which is what a jury has to follow in order to find someone guilty.
“In that blurry video, you are not going to be able to tell if that is Darin Starr or not,” Taylor said.
Taylor also says that investigators in this case have had their minds made up on a suspect since the start,
“Nothing in that evidence is going to show you that Darin Starr is on that motorcycle,” Taylor said.
He then discussed the phone records with the jury, about how there isn’t proof that in the 192 calls that Darin made that he ever called Jason during his time in Alabama. Then his defense mentioned again that Darin was in town for Thanksgiving, which isn’t weird because Darin was without a job and wanted to spend 8-9 days with his family.
Then on the 7 payments made between the 2 brothers, Taylor says that Darin needed financial help to purchase a motorcycle and to repair it. He knew he could count on his brother to help him out.
Even mentioning the previous owner, who spoke to the jury on Monday about how the motorcycle was pretty much undrivable and was in need of repairs.
“This was the perfect crime,” Wendell said. “That’s the one thing that doesn’t exist, a perfect crime.”
Wendell in his rebuttal to the closing arguments told the jury that they are allowed to use common sense and reasoning in this case when determining a verdict in this case.
Deliberations are expected to start in this case on Tuesday afternoon, when a verdict could decided later in the afternoon, or on Wednesday