Dominique Bassil’s fate is now in the hands of the five men and seven women who must decide whether she was acting in self-defense when she stabbed and killed her boyfriend, Vance Harris II, on Aug. 13, 2011.
Jurors were sent to deliberations Monday afternoon after hearing closing arguments in the case. The trial began Oct. 23.
Bassil is charged with second-degree murder.
Prosecutors have argued that the stabbing was not in self defense. In closing arguments Monday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Jackson urged jurors to conclude that Harris posed no threat to Bassil.
“He didn’t threaten her. All the evidence has shown that he didn’t lay a finger on her,” Jackson said.
But Bassil’s defense attorney, Madalyn Harvey, asked the jury to believe what Bassil told them when she testified last week: that Harris was drunk and agitated after a wedding reception where the two apparently argued and that Bassil had reason to be scared of him.
“He was a manly type of man, not some kind of softy,” Harvey said. “Just because his friends say he didn’t get angry at the wedding, does not mean that he did not go home and beat his woman, which is exactly what happened.”
Attorneys on both sides have tried to use Harris’ size—he was six feet eight inches tall and at least 250 pounds—to support their point. Jackson called him a “teddy bear” and a “gentle giant.”
“That’s the great thing about his height and weight. If he lays a finger on you, you’re going to know it,” Jackson said. “[Bassil] didn’t even have a hangnail.”
But Harvey argued that Harris was so big that he didn’t need a weapon to hurt Bassil. Bassil told investigators that Harris slapped her on her face and dragged her off their bed the night she stabbed him.
“She’s telling the truth, that she stabbed an unarmed man,” Harvey said of Bassil. “She was scared and she wanted him to get away.”
Jackson continued to portray Bassil as a jealous girlfriend who acted irrationally when she didn’t get what she wanted and an unreliable source who changed her story repeatedly.
Jurors began deliberating at about 3:30 Monday afternoon. If a verdict is not reached Monday, deliberations will pick up again at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.