The Woodward News

Local News

August 22, 2013

Jurors hear 4 witnesses on second day of trial

(Continued)

Woodward, Okla. — INVESTIGATOR AND EXPERT TESTIMONY

Also testifying Wednesday was Curt Terry, a special agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Terry testified about taking several blood samples from the bed of the pickup and a piece of a broken tooth, and sending them to the OSBI lab for analysis.  He said all were forensically matched back to Watkins.

Terry also testified about other evidence he collected away from the crime scene, including bloody clothes found at Spencer's friend's house where the trio had gone to clean up after returning to Woodward.  He never said whether any of these clothing items were analyzed to have the blood stains DNA tested.

However, he said he eventually collected a pair of shoes belonging to Yelloweagle after getting a search warrant several weeks after Watkins' death.  The shoes were sent in for OSBI analysis and it was determined they had come into contact with Watkins' blood.

Terry also testified about copies of several different phone records that he reviewed as part of his investigation, including Watkins' phone records showing numerous texts he sent to his girlfriend on the night of Sept. 22, 2010.

When asked about the content of those texts, Terry said, "Through my investigation I learned that they said Jon was wanting to go home, to go back to Woodward and wasn't being allowed to by Mr. Hager."

The OSBI agent also testified about records showing numerous phone calls between Carriger and the person she called to pick the group up from out in the county.  However, despite all those calls, he said none of the phone records he reviewed showed that any of the group including Yelloweagle, Hager, Spencer, Carriger and Bozarth ever called 9-1-1 following Watkins' death.

Spencer confirmed this during his testimony when Assistant District Attorney Chris Boring asked if they called emergency officials and Spencer testified, "I don't think we ever did."

The jury also heard testimony from 2 expert witnesses: Dr. Marc Harrison, who is a forensic pathologist with the Chief Medical Examiner's Office in Oklahoma City, and Doug Perkins, an OSBI blood spatter expert.

Harrison testified about the autopsy he performed on Watkins' body on Sept. 24, 2010.  He primarily explained a number of photographs he had taken during the autopsy to document injuries to Watkins' body.  This included graphic photographs showing damage to his brain, in the form of several hemorrhages, or areas where there was bleeding on his brain, and a photograph of an x-ray showing Watkins' broken jaw that was "most likely from a blow to the chin," Harrison said.

Other photographs showed the approximately dozen different lacerations to Watkins' face and numerous contusions to his face, back of his head, hands and knees.  But most of the injuries were "localized to his face and head and back of his hands," the pathologist said.

Harrison said that all the wounds on Watkins' body "tell a story" about how he died.

And from analyzing them, he said, "Jon Watkins told me that he had been beaten."

However, upon the defense's cross examination, Harrison said that some of the injuries, such as the large contusion to the back of the head, could also potentially be consistent with a car accident.  Upon Scimeca's questioning, he also agreed that forensic science cannot determine what specific blow might have led to Watkins' death, just that he died from multiple blunt force trauma.

Scimeca asked whether Watkins' .23 blood alcohol content (BAC), or almost 3 times the legal limit, could have exacerbated his injuries.  Harrison said "it can be argued that alcohol in the blood would allow an individual to bleed more freely."

"So we don't know that if he didn't have any alcohol in his system he may have lived or may have still died from this, we just can't tell?" Scimeca asked.  "Correct," Harrison said.

Perkins testified about the "large density of blood spatter" located in the rear of the bed of the pickup on both the driver's and passenger's side walls behind the wheel fender wells and on the tailgate.  Although he didn't respond personally to the crime scene, Perkins said he analyzed the blood splatter through photographs taken by investigators.

From the shape of the droplets, he said the majority of the spatter was created by striking a bloody object "very low or at the floor level" in the back of the truck.

"So it would not be from someone standing up, but more like someone's laying down," Perkins said.

In addition, he testified that the size of the droplets were consistent with a medium velocity impact, meaning "the blood droplets were acted upon by an object moving between 5 to 25 feet per second."  As examples, he said medium velocity impact spatter could be created when a bloody object was "struck by a 2x4, struck by a baseball bat or hit with a fist."

In summarizing his analysis, Perkins said, "The patterns, size, density and populations of the blood spatter and the injuries to the victim all indicate blunt force trauma injuries, which would be in the range of beatings, but I'm not sure of what weapon might have been used."

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