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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Prosecutor lays out case against Steele

Though Edgar Steele's fingerprints are not on the pipe bomb that was strapped under his wife's car, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Haws told jurors in his closing argument that the 65-year-old North Idaho lawyer's "legal fingerprints" are all over it.

Haws played portions of the recordings in which Steele discusses the plot to kill Cyndi Steele with his handyman, Larry Fairfax, whom he'd promised money to murder his wife and mother-in-law.
He said jurors are to be more skeptical of Fairfax's testimony because of his involvement in the case, but that everything Fairfax has said is supported by other evidence.
In one of the recorded meetings with Steele, Fairfax is given $400 to pay for his travels to Portland. The FBI seized that money after the meeting and knows Fairfax didn't have anything on him before he met with him.
"This is corroboration," Haws said. "This says Mr. Fairfax was telling you the truth."
Haws read several quotes from the recording in which Steele urges Fairfax to "get this job done" and mentions the possible car insurance payment as a "powerful incentive."
Haws also played a portion of the phone call Steele made to his wife after his arrest. He reminded jurors of Steele's reaction when police falsely told him his wife was dead. Police described Steele's reaction as flat and forced until they told him he was under arrest for murder for hire and a fecal odor filled the air.
"I would submit that his body reacted and told more truth than his mouth did," Haws said.
Defense lawyers have suggested the recordings of Steele and Fairfax were altered or manufactured, but Haws said there's no proof of that.
Steele would like jurors to think that a "Mission Impossible plot" has been created by the government, Haws said, but "the recordings themselves tell you they are accurate" from the flow and syntax to the presence of outside noises that carry through statements.
Haws said the thought that Fairfax could have "the sophistication and the tools" to put together a recording in the 30 minutes he was to visit with Steele is wrong.
"That can't happen," he said.
Haws said the defense never gave a motive for why Fairfax would have really been the one to want to kill Cyndi Steele.
Haws said Edgar Steele wanted to start a relationship with a 25-year-old Ukrainian woman. 
Defense has said the communication was research into what Steele believed was a scam involving Russian mail order bridges, but Haws said they've never mentioned a case number or book that Steele is pursuing.
"The evidence here is overwhelming, it's way beyond a reasonable doubt as to what this man intended," Haws said.

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