Desperate for drugs, Bruce drove to his parents' home and asked his mother for money, the prosecutor said. She told him no. Moments later, she caught him taking the grocery money from her purse and fought with him, tearing his plaid flannel shirt.
Lisker went to the kitchen, got a pair of steak knives and plunged them into her back. Realizing that she was still alive, he grabbed the Little League trophy and smashed it against her head. Then he pummeled her with the exercise bar.
As his mother lay dying, he carried out an elaborate cover-up. He wiped his fingerprints and her blood from the trophy and the exercise bar. He ran outside and removed the glass panes from the kitchen window to fit the story he'd concocted. He placed a rope around his mother's neck, a detail he thought would suggest a cult killing.
Then he phoned for help.
The prosecutor insisted that Bruce could not have seen his mother through the windows at the back of the house, as he claimed. Police photos showed that furniture and glare from the sun would have blocked his view, he said.
"He couldn't think of everything," Rabichow said. "That is the most condemning lie that he told."
Further proof of his guilt, the prosecutor said, was that all of the bloody footprints in the house matched Bruce's shoes.
"Only his footprint is in the blood," Rabichow said.
If Lisker's story was true, he asked, "why isn't there an intruder's footprint somewhere?"
Mulcahy attacked the prosecution's case on several fronts. He said there was no evidence that Bruce wiped his fingerprints from the trophy or the exercise bar or did anything else to cover up a crime.
He challenged Rabichow's assertion that Lisker couldn't have seen his mother's body through the windows. The police photos were taken the day after the killing, he said, when the sun was brighter and the glare more pronounced.
Through patient questioning, Mulcahy pinned Hughes down to an account of the confession that he hoped would strain credulity.
Hughes said Lisker confessed during their very first conversation through the hole in the wall — before they even knew each other's names.
In his closing argument, Mulcahy asked jurors to imagine that they were in the business of selling cars and that Hughes had come in looking to buy one on credit.
"Would you give Robert Hughes a loan?" he asked.
After deliberating four days, the jury convicted Lisker of second-degree murder. He was escorted to a holding pen, where he threw up into a trash can.
Several jurors cried that day outside the courtroom. "He just didn't strike us as a hardened criminal," said one. "But the evidence was convincing."