The trial of a man accused of killing three people in southern Camden County continued Wednesday with the examination of physical evidence.
Charged with three counts of first degree murder in the Dec. 2, 2010 deaths of Sally Amos, Donald Myers and Donald Young in Stoutland, Morris McCabe sat in the courtroom as Camden County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Keedy continued questioning witnesses in his case against McCabe.
Public defenders Beth Davis-Kerry and Dave Kenyon honed in on the handling of evidence — most importantly the the clothing McCabe was wearing at the time of his arrest — as a critical part of the defense.
The stitching of a glove found with McCabe at the time of his arrest allegedly contains a blood stain matching the DNA of Sally Amos. Blood standard confusion caused a four-month delay of the trial, which resumed Monday morning.
Keedy, Kenyon and Davis-Kerry questioned Camden County Detective Aaron Jolly about the chain of custody — who had possession of the clothing during what time. Jolly testified that he put spent shell casings into a different evidence bag from unused ammunition, but did not touch or open the clothing evidence — the state's much-scrutinized exhibit 98.10.
While cross-examining Camden County Sheriff's Department evidence custodian Brett Scott, the defense pointed out that officers did not use separate evidence bags for each article of clothing. They were instead intermingled with one another in one box.
When the clothing made its way to the Missouri State Highway Patrol crime lab in Dec. 2010, technician Sandy Schoene testified that she accepted the clothing despite a lack a proper protocol.
Typically, Schoene said, officers needed to seal, initial and date the bag, with writing partially over the tape to more easily determine signs of tampering.
Schoene received the evidence on Dec. 10, 2010, but the bag had no initials or date. At a later time, someone checked the 'corrected improper seal' box on the evidence log. Schoene said she did not remember doing that, despite a case note made on Jan. 9, 2013 saying she did.
Also in the case note, she wrote that "it appeared someone in the Camden County Sheriff's Department reopened the package with scissors."
Next on the stand, criminalist Amanda Neely testified that she received McCabe's clothing on Feb. 25, 2011 and began to examine it for gunfire residue on March 4, 2011. Neely noted that she received the container in an open state, as another criminalist had worked on the evidence prior to her.
Neely noticed that the evidence bag wasn't properly initialed. She then added tape and initialed it herself, noting on the evidence log that she 'corrected improper seal.'
Neely, a trained chemist, looked for signs of gunfire residue particles — the presence of lead, antimony and barium — on McCabe's leather jacket, t-shirt, gloves and boots. Residue was found on the tip of both boots and on the right wrist and left shoulder of McCabe's leather jacket.
Page 2 of 2 - Criminalist Ruth Montgomery with the Missouri Highway Patrol Crime Lab told the court that she tested McCabe's belongings in Feb. 2011. She said that she found blood and DNA profiles on several of the items. A blood stain was found on one of the boots. DNA profiles and blood residue belonging to Morris McCabe and victim Sally Amos were found on a pair of black gloves which belonged to McCabe.
"You can actually see the transfer of a dried red substance," Montgomery said of one of the left glove.
McCabe's DNA was found on a pair of socks, as well. The defense attempted to object to the clothing being accepted as evidence since it was unclear if the chain of command had been followed properly. The judge overruled the objection and allowed the evidence.
Keedy also called Verizon Wireless system performance engineer Kelly Coddington to the stand for professional testimony on cell phone evidence.
Coddington, after analyzing call detail records, established that Morris McCabe's cell phone received a phone call around the time of the murders near Stoutland. He said the phone transmission used a part of the tower that faces in the general direction of Stoutland and has a range of 18 kilometers. He also said that McCabe's phone received calls earlier in the day in Lebanon, his home.
Kenyon confirmed with Coddington that while the data shows the cell phone was in the area, there's no way to prove definitively the exact origin of the phone or the user of the phone.
Both the state and the defense gave their closing arguments on Wednesday.
Court will resume on July 9 at 1 p.m. Judge Hayden expects to give his verdict on that date.