In his opening statements Monday morning, Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Keedy implored Circuit Court Judge Ken Hayden to not only find accused murderer Morris McCabe guilty of first-degree murder and armed criminal action, but to impose the maximum sentence — life without parole. McCabe stands trial for the Dec. 2, 2010 murder of Sally Amos, Donald Meyers and Donald Young at Meyers' home outside of Stoutland in southeastern Camden County.
In his opening argument, Keedy portrayed McCabe as an angry man incapable of controlling his emotions and commanding of a Stoutland woman's attention. The thrust of Keedy's case centers around the relationship between McCabe and Vicki Bell. Keedy alleged that when Bell refused a relationship with McCabe, he became angry, stole a gun from the home of David Prater, and blindsided his victims, one of whom — Donald Meyers — regularly visited Bell and "took care of things" when she was on the road with her job as a truck driver. Keedy portrayed McCabe as jealous of Meyers — whose nicknamed was "Fido" — and allegedly said that Fido would never take care of her stuff again.
Keedy alleged that McCabe took the stolen firearm and entered Meyers' home shortly after 8 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2010, shot Meyers first and Young second. An analysis determined both men died instantly with shots to the head. Sally Amos, Meyers' live-in girlfriend, however, did not die immediately after being shot twice. She fell to the floor, where, Keedy alleged, McCabe shot her a third time at close range. McCabe allegedly shot Meyers and Young again for a total of seven discharges — the same number of bullets stolen from Prater's home.
Keedy called Jerry Neal — the first person to find the bodies around 9:30 a.m. Dec. 3 — to the stand as his first witness. Neal admitted to finding the body of Meyers slumped in a chair and the body of Amos on the floor. He did not immediately see Young, whose was concealed by a chair from the door.
Upon cross-examination, Neal said he provided no written statement to authorities. But, during an interview with Sgt. Chris Moehle of the Camden County Sheriff's Dept., the public defender showed him Neal's written statement. Sgt. Moehle interviewed Neal on the scene and wrote a report regarding the interview. Neal also wrote a statement which did not specify the number of bodies found inside the residence which was entered as evidence.
Public defender Beth Davis-Kerry, who chose not to make an opening statement, chose to focus less on McCabe and more on the relationship between Donald Meyers and Sally Amos. Davis-Kerry asked the second witness, neighbor Cherokee Harris, to describe Meyers. She told investigators that "Meyers didn't get along with people." She also said he had a habit of lying. On the afternoon of Dec. 2, Harris remembered a visit from Amos in which she was upset by an argument with Meyers.
Page 2 of 3 - Paul Griffin, Amos' son, echoed the rough relationship.
"She wasn't acting like herself," Griffin testified. He also alleged that Meyers and Young would often drink late into the night and that he wanted to get his mother out of that situation.
Brandy Young, Griffin's finace, said Meyers drank "much more than I would drink." Young also testified that she accompanied Meyers to the home of Vicki Bell and noticed bruising and other evidences of violence on her face — later identified as the product of an encounter with McCabe just days before the murders.
After a recess for lunch, Keedy started proceedings by bringing Sgt. Chris Moehle to the stand. Moehle is a detective with the Camden County Sheriff's Department and was called to the crime scene on Dec. 3, 2010.
Keedy played the video Moehle took of the scene after he entered it as evidence. "This video is as it was when we arrived," Moehle said.
He told officials that law enforcement did not move or change anything before filming the scene. A look at the outside of the residence and the inside of the home with the bodies of the deceased unmoved were included. The video depicts how the bodies were when the shooter left the residence. Close-ups of bullet holes, shell casings and other findings were cited as evidence.
"We found no weapons in the house," Moehle said, even though multiple shell casings were found. He also added that the residence did not appear to be ransacked.
Moehle applied for a search warrant for the residence and was granted one at 1:38 p.m. on Friday, Dec 3 by Judge Bruce Colyer. Moehle also told Keedy that he spoke to Jerry Neal and searched a vehicle parked outside. Inside the vehicle he found a check, an electric receipt and a cell phone later identified as Meyers' phone plugged up charging inside the truck.
Keedy then called Lt. Rick Herndon with Missouri Highway Patrol to the stand.
Herndon arrived on the scene around noon Dec. 3 and worked with Camden County Sheriff's Department officials investigating the crime scene.
Herndon photographed and diagrammed the scene. When looking at some of the photographs entered as evidence he said, "This is a true and accurate depiction of what I photographed."
Keedy walked the judge and gallery through the photographs and diagrams of the scene. With laser technology, Herndon was able to map out bullet holes found around the scene and diagram where the shot came from.
Court took a short break after Keedy spoke with Herndon. In order to make press deadlines, the Lake Sun had to leave court for the day.
If found guilty, McCabe is not subject to the death penalty. Keedy revoked a possible death sentence for a waiver of a jury trial, meaning Hayden alone will decide the verdict of the case.
Page 3 of 3 - Lake Sun staff will be covering the trial for the rest of the week and will continue to post updates in the Lake Sun and on www.lakenewsonline.com.