JESSICA KISBY was the star witness in the Taj Mahal kidnapping-murder case that concluded Thursday, but she clearly was not a favorite of even the prosecution.
In closing arguments before an Atlantic County jury, First Assistant County Prosecutor James McClain described Kisby, 26, as a "cold-blooded murderer."
In a dramatic summation that capped the 10-day trial, McClain told the jury, "At the time she testified, she was one of two coldhearted, cold-blooded murderers in the courtroom . . . . The other was . . . Craig Arno."
Arno, 46, faces murder, kidnapping, carjacking, arson and related charges that could result in a life sentence.
The career criminal - he has four previous convictions and has spent more than 10 years in prison - took the stand in his defense Monday, denying he had anything to do with the killing of Martin Caballero, who was abducted from the parking garage of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Hotel on May 21, 2010.
Eric Shenkus, the public defender representing Arno, argued that Kisby was responsible for the killing and that she later implicated Arno, her boyfriend, in order to cut a deal with the government.
Shenkus said Kisby was smug and callous while testifying about the crime, which he called "horrendous."
"This is not about what happened to Martin Caballero," he told the jury, "but about who is responsible."
Caballero's wife, daughter, and other relatives sat in one row of the courtroom Thursday. The North Jersey grocer had gone to Atlantic City with his wife, daughter, and friends to celebrate his daughter's 22nd birthday.
Arno and Kisby were charged with abducting Caballero from the garage, stabbing him to death, dumping his body along a dirt farm road, then using his ATM card to withdraw $300. They later set fire to Caballero's car, a white 2009 Lincoln MKS that had caught their eye.