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Day 9: Michael Palmer Trial

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It was an emotional scene in Judge Thomas Bedell's courtroom on Thursday as Kristyn and Michael Palmer were within feet of one another for the first time in nearly two years.

The couple is accused of shooting and killing Kristyn's father, Ed Wilson, in 2011.

Kristyn was asked to state on the record whether or not she would be testifying in her husbands trial.

Earlier in the trial, Judge Michael Aloi indicted Kristyn Palmer's attorney, Fran Whiteman, recommended that she did not testify.

Kristyn Palmer told the court she has made the decision to exercise her fifth amendment right due to her outstanding murder charge.

Michael Palmer was showing a lot of emotion as his wife was escorted from the courtroom.

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In regards to testimony, Marion County Prosecutor Pat Wilson picked up right where he left off Wednesday evening with Detective Shawn Mathews on the stand on day 9 of Michael Palmer's trial.

Pat Wilson asked Detective Mathews to reflect back on that phone call Palmer made to 911 on November 19. Detective Mathews said Palmer made no indication he was afraid of Ed Wilson.

He said he determined that conclusion by different references that Palmer would make while he was on the phone. Some included the fact that he would use words like 'I guess'. He said he didn't need police assistance at the time, it wasn't an emergency, and he just wanted to make a report.

The jury also had the opportunity to listen to Palmers call to 911 on the night of the shooting, which was December 11, 2011.

Detective Mathews said there were a lot of similarities between the two phone calls from November and December in regards to Palmers language.

Some of which included the phrases 'drunken father-in-law, kicking in my door, and wanting to blow off my head'.

Detective Mathews told the jury Palmer made several comments indicating how close he was to Ed Wilson's body after he was shot.

Palmer made comments about how Ed Wilson was still breathing and making terrible sounds, how he didn't see any blood, and how he did see the bullet on the counter as well as a hole in the back door, according to Detective Mathews.

He also told dispatchers during the call that he could see something in Ed Wilson's hands, claiming it was either a gun or a knife.

Pat Wilson asked Detective Mathews if Palmer said anything in the 911 call about seeing a weapon or an altercation before he shot Ed Wilson. Detective Mathews responded no.

Pat Wilson then went into the steps Detective Mathews took when he arrived on scene after Ed Wilson was shot.

He told the jury he was first briefed by the officer in charge, which was Deputy Tony Veltri. He then made sure the scene was secure and proceeded with a walk through of the home.

Detective Mathews said he began on the front porch and worked his way back. He said he would drop an evidence "tent" next to things he believed may be important.

Some of the evidence tents placed throughout the house were next to Palmers cell phone, the house phone, several pieces of wood, the AK-47, shell casings, and a charger for the home phone.

In the kitchen, Detective Mathews said tents were also placed by the hole in the kitchen counter and the fired bullet on the countertop.

Once he got to the back porch, he told the jury he noticed Ed Wilson's truck was still running and had its lights on. He said he placed evidence tents by Ed Wilson's body and the brass knuckles.

Detective Mathews told the jury once all of the evidence was marked, he began to process the scene and packing the evidence that would need to be tested.

He said he secured Palmers cell phone in case of the need to pull his records later on.

He told the jury he didn't collect wood chips because he knew by examining them that they came from the countertop. He also said Palmer told him that when the missed bullet hit the counter, "[explicative] went everywhere".

Detective Mathews said he took the AK-47, shell casings, and recorded a message from Ed Wilson that was on the Palmer's answering machine.

The jury was able to hear that recording, in which Ed Wilson was asking Palmer to come to the house to "work things out".

In the kitchen he said he obtained the fired bullet and took measurements of the counter top that was struck. He determined the bullet hole was 3 feet from the floor and 2 feet away from the door.

The brass knuckles were taken into evidence and Ed Wilson's body was photographed and observed for trace evidence. Detective Mathews said he observed a bullet wipe around the entrance wound, which is a black ring that can be caused from oils or anything else that was on the bullet.

Detective Mathews told the jury that due to the bullet wipe, it can be determined that the weapon was fired 4-5 feet away from Ed Wilson.

Detective Mathews said he observed the door in which Palmer said Ed Wilson damaged by kicking it. He said the hole showed evidence of weathering. There was dirt and dust inside of it and appeared to have been there for a while. There was also no evidence on Ed Wilson's boot that he had kicked the door, according to Detective Mathews. He said he made the decision not to take the door into evidence.

All of the crucial evidence was sent to Charleston for further testing, according to Detective Mathews.

He talked to the jury about the case submission form that he had to turn into the West Virginia State Police Forensic Lab. He said he had to put a brief description of the crime on the report. He indicted that the description is what he was told had happened. The evidence is sent away to be able to prove or deny that claim.

Pat Wilson asked Detective Mathews, "Do you believe that is what happened?"

"No," Detective Mathews answered.

Detective Mathews indicated that he went back to the scene later on to test theories and attempt to find the second bullet. He also took swabs of the countertop to check for DNA to make sure the bullet didn't enter the same hole as the first.

He said he found a bullet in the kitchen windowsill and it was clear it was shot into the microwave. It was determined it was not there the night Ed Wilson was shot and had no relation to the crime. It was still sent to the forensic lab in Charleston to confirm that.

Pat Wilson asked Detective Mathews about the phone calls between the Palmer residence and Ed Wilson's cell phone on December 10 and 11, 2011. Detective Mathews told the jury there were four back and forth.

He then was asked to get up from the stand to show a chart to the jury in regards to measurements of the house and where the shots could have been fired. It was not drawn to scale.

Detective Mathews said where Palmer said he was standing is not consistent with the physical evidence.

He said Palmer told him the gun was held low when he fired the two shots. Detective Mathews told the jury Palmer would have to be on his knee or low to the ground for the shot to go into the countertop. He also said evidence shows Palmer would have had to step out of the computer room into the kitchen, take a step forward, and raise the gun for it to be consistent with Ed Wilson's wound.

During cross-examination, Defense Attorney Sean Murphy immediately began to ask Detective Mathews about his measurements that he took of the house and whether or not they were valid. He asked him why went back to the scene on January 29, 2014 to take additional measurements, since it was two years after the shooting.

Detective Mathews replied that it wasn't the first time he did so. He took measurements 2-3 times before that, including the night of the murder.

Murphy also asked him why he put objects like the computer desk, chair, and treadmill in his diagram but didn't take exact measurements. He added that the AK-47 was found in the chair, and asked why deputies never decided to measure it.

Detective Mathews told him he measured what he believed to be important.

In relation to earlier comments about Palmer shooting the gun low to the ground, Murphy asked Detective Mathews if it was possible for Palmer to pick it up off the chair and be in the lower position when he began to shoot rather then being on his knee.

Detective Mathews agreed it could be possible. Murphy indicted that no one had any idea exactly how high the weapon was off the ground when it was shot.

Murphy told Detective Mathews there are a lot of "ifs" and assumptions in his investigation and referred him to the West Virginia State Police Forensic Lab website. He asked why the Marion County Sheriff's Department didn't have experts reconstruct the scene to answer the questions about proximately and elevation of the weapon.

"We could have requested it," Detective Mathews responded.

In turn, Murphy said: "But you didn't."

Murphy also took out a tape measurer to determine that Palmer could, in fact, have been in the place he said he was and shot Ed Wilson. Detective Mathews said that was a theory and not accurate.

Next, Murphy began to question Detective Mathews qualifications and education. He continued to ask him, "So you're not an expert, right?"

Murphy asked he believed some evidence to be important and not other pieces. He continued that with asking why DNA was not tested from the fired bullet and again brought up the issue of exact measurements.

Detective Mathews said he could tell by looking at the pictures how far things were from each other.

"If you were on trial for your life would you want things to be based on 'arounds'," Murphy asked Detective Matthews. "Around 6-8 inches?"

Murphy asked for pieces of documentation that were not available such as a log of evidence collected, measurements from the house on the night of the murder, and a recorded statement from Michael Palmer.

Detective Mathews testified that the list of evidence and measurements were not in his folder. He told Murphy that Palmer's statement was hand-written, not recorded.

"So all we have is your theory about what Mr. Palmer told you happened the night of the shooting," Murphy said.

Last, Murphy talked about the time between the last time Ed Wilson called the Palmer residence before the 911 call.

Detective Mathews testified that Ed Wilson called the Palmers at 12:13 a.m. on December 11. This was 27 minutes before the 911 call. The phone call lasted for 11 minutes and 33 seconds.

Palmer made the call to 911 at 12:30 a.m. and police arrived 11 minutes later.

Detective Mathews couldn't comment on Palmer's demeanor once he arrived on scene but did tell the jury he said, "My father-in-law is on the back porch."

The defense is expected to begin calling witnesses Friday morning.

For previous stories, click on the link.