, Salem, MA

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October 25, 2013

Jury weighs fate of Peabody woman's killer

Defense claims Chappell was insane when he killed counselor


But Zabin, the prosecutor, argued that everything Chappell did after killing Moulton could be viewed as an act of self-preservation, including trying to clean up the bloody crime scene and, when that failed, setting the group home on fire.

Chappell put the victim in her car, then went to find the keys, Zabin said. He drove her body to a church parking lot in Lynn, near where he had once lived and where he knew few people would be likely be around on a weekday. Then he drove to Boston to ask family members for money.

When they refused, he went to an A.J. Wright store, stole some clothing, slipped out a back door, changed clothes and got rid of his blood-stained garments and the murder weapon.

He did such a good job washing up that there was just one “speck” of Moulton’s blood left, on a finger, Zabin said.

“He made every attempt to distance himself from the evidence in this case, and he almost did it,” Zabin told the jury.

That shows that Chappell was capable of making “deliberate, calculated choices, and we have a name for that — first-degree murder,” Zabin argued.

Much of the closing arguments by both sides focused on the credibility of the expert witnesses.

Dr. Martin Kelly, an expert witness for the prosecutors, told jurors yesterday morning that he does not believe Chappell was legally insane at the time of the killing. Kelly also suggested that the original diagnosis of schizophrenia was questionable, given the lack of certain symptoms of the disorder, including “fixed” delusions. Instead, Kelly testified, Chappell seemed to vary in his accounts of which voices he was hearing.

Kelly said he believes Chappell was simply someone with antisocial personality disorder, typical of many people who commit crimes.

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