SAN JOSE -- There was no dispute in the courtroom that 15-year-old Michael Russell was brutally stabbed by at least one of his Santa Teresa High School friends with him that afternoon. One of the young men has already been convicted of the five-year-old slaying. But attorneys Thursday argued over whether the other young man, Randy Thompson, was an eager participant or a subservient bystander.

The disparate theories were floated Thursday by the prosecution and defense, as the monthlong trial of Thompson in the November 2009 killing of Russell drew to a close. Deliberations are expected to begin Monday.

Prosecutor Valerie McGuire contended that Thompson, who was 16 at the time, joined his pal Jae Williams -- convicted in May in a separate trial -- in killing Russell for thrills.

"It was a reciprocal relationship," McGuire, who won Williams' conviction, told the jury. "They found in each other the desire to kill another human being."

In contrast, Thompson's defense attorney, Richard Pointer, argued that Williams set up a passive Thompson to take the fall -- including by wearing Thompson's shoes and sweatshirt to Russell's house near Santa Teresa High School.

"Jae had a plan from the get-go to cover his tracks," he said. "Smart guy, somewhat diabolical, I'd say."


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But McGuire called the evidence against Thompson "overwhelming." Among other things, friends testified they heard him and Jae talking about murder, including about "taking Thompson's killing virginity." The kitchen knife they allegedly used came from Thompson's house, and the bloody, bent murder weapon and sweatshirts were found by Thompson's brother under a car in the Thompsons' driveway. Thompson had drawn violent pictures, including of people stabbed in the back, and wrote chilling things such as "The day I cut your throat, ask yourself where is your God now."

Most incriminating, McGuire said, was the blood-soaked cuff of Thompson's sweatshirt, which a crime lab technician testified could not have become so saturated merely from contact with Williams' bloody clothes, as Pointer argued.

"This jacket is the undoing of Mr. Thompson," she said.

Pointer contended that it was Williams who put Russell in a chokehold then strangled him and stabbed him 12 or so times in a "fury" while Thompson merely looked on. Everything violent Thompson wrote and drew, Pointer claimed, just reflected the teen's "fantasy world."

Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport.