Tears flow at murder trial
McCONNELSVILLE -The family of a man who was shot and killed in Morgan County last year wept, some leaving the courtroom, as the trial against his accused murderer continued Tuesday in Morgan County Common Pleas Court with gruesome photos of the victim’s recovered body presented as evidence.
Timmy Stevens, 40, rarely looked and occasionally wiped at his eyes as the prosecution projected photos of the heavily decomposed body of 36-year-old John Davis III onto the wall in the dimly lit courtroom.
Stevens is charged with murder and felonious assault for a June 12, 2012 shooting which occurred at a home just south of Malta on Morgan County Road 2. Stevens allegedly killed 36-year-old John Davis III, of Plain City and shot a 3-year-old boy, later hiding Davis’ body in the woods. According to earlier testimony, the two men were friends who got into an argument, resulting in the shooting, which the child and his mother witnessed.
The body was recovered near a creek on Bald Eagle Road in Morgan County more than a week after the shooting took place by a man who was riding four-wheelers with his 12-year-old son.
“We drove by one time and there was an odor. Then we drove by again and the smell was even worse. (My son) said, ‘I bet that’s the body they’re looking for in the county,'” recalled Brandon Murphy, formerly of Stockport, who testified Tuesday.
Stevens’ attorney, public defender Greg Meyers, admitted during opening statements Monday that Stevens shot Davis and then disposed of the body because “he panicked.”
However, Meyers contends the shooting was an act of self-defense. Davis was well known for his fits of violence, Meyers said Monday and backed it up with testimony about Davis’ nickname -The Hammer – and through the admission of Davis’ 29-year-old girlfriend, Crystal Mayle, that Davis had been abusive toward her in the past.
Mayle, who is also Stevens’ niece and mother of the young boy who was shot, reported the murder, and testified Monday that Davis had never threatened Stevens.
During Tuesday’s testimony, Meyers pointed to toxicology results that showed Davis had hydrocodone and metabolized cocaine in his system at the time of the autopsy.
However, the drugs could have been inactive in Davis’ system by the time of the shooting, argued Ohio Assistant Attorney General Paul Scarsella, who acted as co-counsel with Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell.
“You can’t sit there and say he was high at the time of the shooting?” Scarsella asked Bryan Casto, of the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, who performed the autopsy.
“Can you rule out that he was high?” Meyers countered.
Casto replied he could not say Davis had definitely been high, nor could he rule out the possibility.
“We’re not looking at levels in the blood because there was no blood,” he said.
Also testifying Tuesday was Lt. Terry Robison, a paramedic with the Malta and McConnelsville Fire Department, who responded to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office the night of the shooting to treat Mayle’s son.
Though Robison had been told the two “puncture wounds” on the boy was from a bullet, he could not be certain of their origin and transported the child to a Columbus hospital as protocol demanded.
Mayle testified Monday that the boy has since recovered from the shooting.
Morgan County Sheriff Tom Jenkins, a second coroner and an investigator from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation also testified Tuesday.
The prosecution will present its final witnesses today. Among them will be officers who arrested Stevens when he was found in Delaware, Ohio, more than a month after the shooting.
The defense will also begin its case today. Meyers indicated during opening statements that Stevens will eventually take the stand on his own behalf.