After more than two and half years and a five-day trial spread out over four and a half months, a Lebanon man has been found guilty of murdering three people in southern Camden County in Dec. 2010.
Camden County Circuit Court Judge Ken Hayden released his decision Tuesday afternoon to a fully packed courtroom, finding Morris McCabe guilty of three counts of first degree murder and three counts of armed criminal action in the deaths of Sally Amos, Donald Myers and Donald Young. Autopsies performed in the days after the crime determined that all three had died as a result of close-range gunfire from a rifle.
A neighbor found the trio dead at Myers' home near Stoutland on the morning of Dec. 3, 2010. McCabe, dressed in a red Camden County Jail tunic and striped pants, had no visible reaction to the verdict.
During the verdict reading, Hayden reviewed the evidence presented at trial by the prosecution and defense. He established that the timeframe of the crime matched up with a window of opportunity for McCabe to commit the murders.
Hayden recapped testimony involving cell phone evidence that suggested McCabe left Lebanon and was in Stoutland at the time of the crime.
"That, therefore, puts Mr. McCabe at the scene of the crime," Hayden said.
The crux of the case involved a blood stain on one of the gloves found with McCabe at his arrest. Criminalist Ruth Montgomery determined the blood stain matched the DNA standard for Sally Amos. Evidence mismanagement caused a four-and-a-half-month-long delay in the trial as the DNA standard was verified. The trial began in February and concluded in mid-June.
But when the trial resumed, public defenders Dave Kenyon and Beth Davis-Kerry took issue with the chain of command of the gloves, suggesting law enforcement mishandled the clothing in the case, casting doubt on the credibility of the gloves as evidence.
Hayden said over the course of the trial, he determined the credibility of the evidence. Ultimately, he said, the questions raised by the defense "do not rise to the level of reasonable doubt."
"The chain of custody was established almost immediately," Hayden continued. "Those gloves were in the same condition [from the time of the arrest through analysis]."
As Hayden described the evidence, cries from the gallery echoed in the courtroom.
"While, albeit, it is circumstantial, it is very strong circumstantial evidence," Hayden concluded before moving on to declare the final verdict.
McCabe will be sentenced on Nov. 12. Family and friends of the victims expressed frustration with having to wait several more months to hear the sentence.
"I'm happy with the verdict, but it's crazy to draw [the case] out until November," Judy Morris, Donald Young's sister, said.
Page 2 of 2 - Prosecuting Attorney Brian Keedy said that completing the verdict and the sentence in the same day was impossible, but also said he found relief that McCabe would not be out in public.
"There has been too much pain," Dennis Timm, a friend of Donald Young and Donald Myers, said. "It should have been settled today."
McCabe is ineligible for the death penalty. The prosecution traded the possibility of the death penalty for a bench trial, meaning Hayden alone decided McCabe's fate.