Wilson said jurors may dislike Linscott, who will testify that she was a "horrible mom" who should have stopped the abuse, but that they should believe her.
"Despising someone and not finding them credible are two different things," she said. "Don't get lured into believing this is a popularity contest between the defendant and Jessica Linscott."
Defense attorney Thomas Gleason countered that Linscott has a history of lying about her own behavior and making false accusations against others when she feels threatened. He said significant questions remain about who caused James' injuries. Linscott also told her son to lie to child welfare workers, he said, and then she abandoned him at the hospital and fled.
"The evidence will show that this is the person upon which the state's whole case hinges, (someone) who would do this to her own son," he said.
While Linscott initially told police neither she nor Dow hurt the boy — she said James hurt his hand falling in the bathroom — she changed her tune when told she would not be charged with assault if she implicated Dow, Gleason said.
"Being threatened at the time ... she throws the last person close to her in her life under the bus," he said. "And after she reached a deal with prosecutors, she admitted spanking James, putting him in the shower as punishment and shoving him hard enough that he went 'flying across the room.'"
Gleason reminded jurors that prosecutors bear the burden of proving his client's guilt.
"Keep an open mind," he said.