Evidence mismanagement caused the circuit court of Camden County to declare a lengthy recess in the trial of Morris McCabe, who is accused of killing three people in Stoutland in Dec. 2010.
Circuit Court Judge Ken Hayden set the trial to resume on June 17, nearly four and a half months after it began. Hayden's decision was much to the visible dismay of family members seated in the gallery.
The entirety of Tuesday morning's testimony focused on the autopsy of Sally Amos, one of the three people killed in the crime. Medical examiner Dr. Keith Norton took the stand to explain that Amos was shot three times — once in the torso and twice in the head. One of the wounds indicated a close-range shot according to Norton.
Norton also handled the autopsies of Donald Meyers and Donald Young, the other two victims of the crime.
Questions of evidence validity surfaced when Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Keedy presented state exhibit 75, the DNA standard for Amos. Keedy showed Norton the card, which contains a sample of dried blood, and pointed out the initials on the card.
Norton testified that he had not in fact taken that sample of blood. He said it was probably taken at Saint Louis University, at the same time fluids were removed to complete a toxicology report.
Public defenders Beth Davis-Kerry and Dave Kenyon asked Hayden to reconsider the exhibit because of speculation of where and when the standard was made.
Following a nearly hour and a half long break in which the attorneys recessed to the judge's chambers, court resumed with the revelation that Norton has another DNA standard for Amos on file — even though a deputy signed a document saying the first standard was the only one in existence.
"There are questions to the source of state's exhibit 75," Hayden said after the recess.
The recess, according to Hayden, is to allow for more time to confirm the contents of Norton's copy of Sally Amos' DNA. The sample must be sent to a St. Louis lab for verification.
McCabe consented to the recess.
The DNA sample is a key piece of evidence for the prosecution. In his opening statement Monday morning, Keedy alleged that blood stains on the stitching of a left glove found with Morris McCabe at the scene of his arrest contained a DNA match to Sally Amos. Without a credible DNA standard, Keedy's prime piece of evidence is useless.
While family members in the gallery lamented the recess, Keedy expressed optimism. If a jury had been hearing the case, Keedy explained, the piece of evidence would have been entirely thrown out. Because McCabe's trial is a bench trial, meaning Hayden alone will decide the verdict, the recess can take place to further clarify and examine evidence.
McCabe waived his right to a jury trial in exchange for the revocation of a possible death sentence if found guilty.
The trial of Morris McCabe will resume Monday, June 17, 2013 at 9 a.m.