WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ It comes down to the word of a prominent lawyer vs. the circumstantial evidence of prosecutors who say Thomas Capano killed his mistress and dumped her body.

No one has found a murder weapon or the body of Anne Marie Fahey, the governor's scheduling secretary and Capano's mistress of three years before she vanished June 27, 1996.

Capano denied knowing anything about her fate until his murder trial. Then, last month he testified Ms. Fahey was accidentally shot to death by another mistress in a suicidal, jealous rage. He said he dumped the body in the ocean to protect the other woman.

The jury was to begin deliberations today. If convicted of first-degree murder, Capano could be sentenced to death.

Prosecutors ridiculed Capano's story in closing statements Wednesday, and questioned why it took him 2 1/2 years to explain the shooting.

``That story is ludicrous. It defies common sense,'' said prosecutor Colm Connolly. ``The defendant thought he would get away with murder.''

Capano's defense stood by the lawyer's story, blaming Deborah MacIntyre, who had an affair with Capano for more than a decade.

``If Tom Capano planned to kill Anne Marie Fahey, what kind of moron would kill her in his own house?'' said Joseph Oteri, Capano's attorney.

Ms. MacIntyre denied being at Capano's home the night Ms. Fahey, 30, disappeared. She testified she bought Capano a gun at his request a month earlier.

Capano, a former state prosecutor from a wealthy family, long insisted he didn't know what became of Ms. Fahey after they dined together at a Philadelphia restaurant _ the last time she was seen.

But he said at trial he crammed her body into a cooler and, with his brother's help, dumped it at sea the day after the shooting.

Oteri urged the jury to set aside any resentment for Capano's conduct, including his many affairs.

``These things may offend you, and many of them should, but ... you can't vote guilty because you don't like Tom Capano or what he did,'' Oteri said.

Connolly said Capano lied to police, psychiatrists, even his own lawyers when asked what happened to Ms. Fahey.

If Ms. MacIntyre had indeed accidentally shot Ms. Fahey, Capano could have called the police for help, Connolly said.

``If anybody was going to be given the benefit of the doubt, it was the defendant with his political connections,'' he said.

Oteri said his client didn't got to authorities because he was in a panic and felt they never would have believed him.