Crime and Courts

Brian Walshe Searched ‘Can You Be Charged With Murder Without a Body?' History Says Yes.

Murder defendants have been charged and convicted without dead bodies — including by the district attorney's office prosecuting Brian Walshe.

One of the many disturbing questions that prosecutors said Brian Walshe searched on the internet in the days after he reported last seeing his wife, Ana Walshe, was: “Can you be charged with murder without a body?”

History shows that, yes, a defendant can be charged and convicted of murder even if there is no body — as long as there is enough circumstantial evidence for a jury to infer that the victim is dead and the defendant is guilty.

Without a body, "the prosecution can come up with a theory and align all the circumstantial evidence to support that theory, and the defense doesn't get the benefit of all the evidence that you get with a body — which is blood, DNA, where it was located, all the things that come with the evidence that comes with the body," said NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos.

If prosecutors couldn't win murder convictions without the proof offered by a dead body, "you'd be encouraging people to hide bodies and rewarding people who are successful at it," added Cevallos, a defense attorney who once represented a client convicted of murder in a case in which no body was recovered.

The remains of Ana Walshe, 39, who was last seen around New Year's Day, have not been recovered.

Brian Walshe has been charged in her death and has pleaded not guilty. He is being held without bail.

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