GEORGETOWN, Del. —
But Withers portrayed Melvin Morse as a brutal and domineering "lord and master" of his household, abusing the girl for years while her mother acquiesced in silence. Pauline Morse, 41, said she chose to ignore the abuse and was afraid of "undermining" Melvin Morse. She also testified that she did not have a close relationship with the girl for the several years that encompassed the waterboarding, and that she did not pay her much attention.
Pauline Morse pleaded guilty last year to misdemeanor endangerment charges and testified against Melvin Morse. She was not in the courtroom Thursday.
Hurley was highly critical of a decision by the judge to allow jurors to review videotaped interviews of the victim and her younger sister by authorities in August 2012. He said the unsworn statements improperly prejudiced the jury.
"The disappointment is in the court allowing the instant replay of the interviews that were the heart of the state's evidence," Hurley said, adding that replaying the unsworn statements left jurors with an unchallenged version of the state's evidence fresh in their minds.
"That really is powerful evidence under the circumstances in this case," he said. "There will be an appeal on that basis."
Hurley said another basis for appeal is what he described as inappropriate statements made by Withers in her closing arguments, including telling the jurors that they could ask for evidence to be sent back to the jury room if they wanted to review it.
Hurley also noted that prosecutors were allowed to present photographs and other evidence of alleged abuse for which Morse was not charged, including one photograph, shown repeatedly by prosecutors, of the tearful victim with her fingers in both nostrils. Morse said he took the photograph to show the girl's mother what he described as an act of defiance after he had slapped the child for sticking one of her fingers in her nose.