After a full day of questioning witnesses Wednesday, prosecutors said they only expect to call one more witness today in the first degree murder trial against Richard Conway.
Although they expect Woodward Police Det. Sgt. Billy Parker to be their final witness in chief, prosecutors chose not to complete their case Wednesday evening because they anticipate questioning of Parker to "take quite some time," Assistant District Attorney Danny Lohmann said.
Lohmann and fellow Assistant District Attorney Westline Ritter said the detective's questioning will "take a lot longer" than questioning of Dr. Inas Yacoub, of the State's Medical Examiner's office, who was the last witness called Wednesday.
Together the prosecution and the defense questioned Yacoub for over an hour and a half.
During her testimony, the medical examiner discussed the autopsy she performed on the victim in the case, Cheryl Roberts.
Conway is accused of mortally wounding Roberts on Nov. 3, 2009 with a gunshot to the head from which she later died at an Oklahoma City hospital on Nov. 4, 2009. It was revealed during testimony Wednesday that the hospital in question, the name of which had previously not been released, was St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Defense attorney Cynthia Viol focused a lot of her questions to Yacoub on several markings on the victim's hands and whether or not they were abrasions or bruises that might be consistent with self-defense.
However, the doctor testified those markings were "not consistent with definite defense wounds, if they even are wounds."
She said what looked like small abrasions on the right hand might have just been dried blood, and what appeared to be bruising on the left hand might have been lividity, which is when the blood settles in the body after death.
The prosecution focused its questioning more on Roberts' gunshot wound to the forehead.
Yacoub testified that the amount of stippling, which is the pattern of gunshot powder around the entry wound, on Roberts' forehead was not consistent with a contact wound, and therefore in her opinion not consistent with a suicide.
She said the stippling shows the gun was fired at an intermediate range, which means it was not in direct contact with the skin as would be expected in a suicide, but it was also not a long-distance shot, which would have been outside the range for gun powder residue to be present.
This testimony was corroborated by Terrance Higgs, a firearms and toolmarks examiner with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI).
Higgs said based on distance determination analysis that he performed by test firing the weapon in the case, which is a .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol, he determined that the gun was not in contact with the skin, but was fired from a distance less than 12 inches away.
However, upon questioning by Viol, Higgs stated that all the testing he conducted on the gun, which went beyond just the distance determination, was done under laboratory conditions and with proper handling of the gun by certified handlers at all times.
Viol then asked the firearms expert whether he ever test fired the gun while fighting for control of the gun. He said he had not.
This question and several others posed by the defense attorney throughout the day , pointed to the case she intimated in her opening statements that she was trying to build: that Roberts first pointed the gun at Conway and a struggle for the gun ensued that ended with Roberts being shot in the head.
In addition to Higgs, several other officials and experts from OSBI testified, including:
• Agent Curt Terry who testified about the gunshot residue test he performed on Conway at the scene, which he discussed during his testimony;
• Muriel Correa, criminalist in the OSBI's trace evidence lab, who testified on her analysis and report on gunshot residue tests performed on Conway and the jacket he was wearing, which both came back positive for the presence of gunshot residue;
• Misty Ticer, criminalist in the OSBI's biological evidence lab, who testified about tests she conducted to confirm the presence of blood on both the gun and Conway's jacket;
• Grace Helms, criminalist with the OSBI's DNA evidence lab, who testified as to the results of DNA tests conducted on the blood samples from the gun and Conway's jacket, all of which she said showed a mixture of DNA but the blood on the gun could have come from Roberts, but in her opinion not from Conway, while the blood on the jacket was likely Conway's blood;
• and Chris Davis, criminalist with OSBI's latent print lab, who testified that he was not able to find a viable print on the gun, which could have been for any number of reasons from the heat of gunfire evaporating the moisture of the prints to several people may have handled the gun and prints were smudged in the process to someone possibly hastily wiping down the gun.
Other witnesses Wednesday included Christine Smith, the dispatcher who took the 9-1-1 call; Tyson Bussinger and C. J. Sober, the 2 responding police officers who were first on the scene; J. P. Shirkey, a firefighter and EMT who first offered help to Roberts; and Chad Campbell, a paramedic who helped take over treatment once EMS arrived on scene.
Each of these witnesses testified as to how they responded to the 9-1-1 call made by Conway reporting that Roberts had been shot, and (with the exception of Smith) what they observed at the scene.
This included testimony on whiskey bottles found at the scene, which Viol focused on as evidence that both Conway and Roberts were highly intoxicated at the time of the shooting. In fact evidence was given Wednesday that Roberts' blood alcohol content on Nov. 3, 2009, registered as .23, almost 3 times the legal limit of intoxication, and still registered .15, almost twice the limit, on Nov. 4, 2009, after Yacoub took samples during the autopsy.
The state entered a total of 27 pieces of evidence, including the 9-1-1 recording of Conway's call to the police, which was played for the jury and in which Conway sounds obviously distressed and asks over and over again for help saying things like “oh God, please” and “get over here please.” The state also entered the .25 caliber pistol; the jacket that was worn by Conway at the time of the shooting; and all of the reports by the testifying OSBI agents and criminalists.
Both the prosecution and the defense also entered evidence in the form of several photographs from the scene of the crime and from the medical examiner's autopsy. The defense entered a total of 16 items of evidence Wednesday.
The trial will resume today at 9 a.m. not withstanding any weather disasters.