KINGWOOD, W.Va. (WBOY) — A murder trial continued in Preston County on Wednesday for a man who is accused of killing his stepfather.
Zachary Saunders was charged in March 2021 after his stepfather John Uphold was found dead outside their neighboring homes.
On Tuesday, the prosecution and the defense made their opening statements, and law enforcement who responded to the killing testified that Saunders’ behavior was odd and that he became defensive prior to his becoming a suspect.
During the trial on Wednesday, the jury viewed Preston County deputies’ bodycam footage of Saunder’s reaction to being informed of Uphold’s death and the statement that Deputy Tichnell get from Saunders on that day.
The prosecution also pointed out that the day before the alleged murder, Saunders said—during what a criminal complaint called a “break in reality”—that he was going to bust Uphold’s head; the victim was found dead from blows to the head the next day that were so severe, Uphold’s skull was visible, Tichnell said. Tichnell confirmed in court on Wednesday that when Saunders was informed of the death, there was no way he could have known the cause.
Another bodycam interview was shown of Saunders swearing that he had been in and out of his house all night and morning of the murder, but Tichnell said that there is no video from Saunders’ cameras that support the claim.
The jury was shown other evidence, including a baseball bat from Saunders’ home that was recorded on law enforcement bodycams before and after the time of the alleged murder, drugs and paraphernalia from Saunders’ home, and photos of blood on the victim’s truck; the truck door was left open, and the victim’s lunch for the day was inside the truck.
Tichnell also revealed text messages that suggest Saunders may have known about the death before he was informed by law enforcement.
At this point, Deputy Tichnell estimates that the murder occurred around 2:30 a.m. on March 9, 2021.
The trial will continue Thursday morning.