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Murder trial jurors will see milder version of autopsy photos

updated: 3/19/2014 10:45 AM

Jurors viewed videos and heard testimony on Monday while Donald A. Lee, accused in the May 17, 2013 shooting death of Brittany Marie (Wallace) Andrews, watched.

Before jurors were brought into the courtroom, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Tedeschi said photos labeled people"s exhibit group 37 were admitted into evidence over the objection of defense attorneys Bryan Drew and T.J. Parrish. The judge said these issues were conducted outside the presence of the jurors on Friday.

Referring to the group of photos of the autopsy conducted on Andrews," Tedeschi reserved ruling on photos marked 37U through 37X. The judge said he believed they could be cropped to "make them a little less graphic."

Tedeschi instructed jurors that the cropped photos were being admitted into evidence on Monday over the objection of defense attorneys.

Tedeschi said the uncropped photos would be placed in a sealed envelope, away from public view at the suggestion of State"s Attorney Evan Owens.

Assistant State"s Attorney Philip Butler called his first witness, Jamie King, to the stand. She testified that she was an employee at Mac"s Circle K in May 2013 and had provided video surveillance from May 17, 2013 to the Benton Police Department.

The video was admitted into evidence without objection or questions from defense attorneys.

After a series of witnesses testifying to video tape evidence, blood mon the hands of the accused became a focus.

Butler asked Police Detective Kyle Melvin if Lee had mentioned anything on his hands. Melvin testified that Lee had asked why he had blood on his hands before the defendant signed the Miranda rights "with his right hand."

Butler asked Melvin if he had determined where Lee had been. Melvin testified that officers had determined that Lee had picked up Andrews in Steeleville and the two went to Liquor Barrell in West City.

Melvin said they made a purchase and drove to a house in Benton where Lee was staying. When asked, Melvin testified that video was obtained of the two at Liquor Barrell, Circle K and Jokers Den. The testimony was admitted over the objection of Parrish.

Butler asked Melvin about the truthfulness of he and Funkhouser during the interviews with Lee. Melvin said the "tactic is to get the truth from the defendant."

Video from eight cameras inside and outside Jokers Den was exhibited to the jury.

Among the scenes, Andrews and Lee are observed walking toward the pool area of the bar, walking to different tables, before Andrews is seen leading Lee toward to a table across the bar from the camera.

Andrews is seen walking out of the room as Butler switches camera angles. Lee is seen exiting the bar at 21:12 with a pool cue. The outside camera shows the two together and Andrews leading Lee back inside the bar. Andrews goes back to the pool room at 21:20, followed by Lee.

Following lunch break, the video resumes and the victim and defendant are seen both inside and outside the bar.

During cross-examination, the defense attorney asked Melvin about the training he and Funkhouser had obtained and if they had been taught to ask significant questions.

Parrish said when Andrews, Lee and Allie Ortner were outside Jokers Den, it appeared that Andrews was "animated and appeared to be yelling." Parrish asked Melvin if he saw Andrews and Ortner get into it and asks Melvin if he saw Andrews" arms swinging in the air.

Melvin said Lee is seen getting between Andrews and Ortner on the video .

Butler called county Coroner Marty Leffler, who testified that he was called to investigate the death of Andrews. Leffler was asked about Andrews" .124 blood alcohol content. Leffler testified that Andrews also had THC in her system, suggesting she had smoked cannabis one or two days prior to her death.

Butler called James Michael Jacobi, M.D., who performed the autopsy.

Jacobi said in his opinion, the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. He determined that the bullet entered through the left temple and went through Andrews" brain, causing her death.

Jacobi said there is evidence of a "loose contact wound to the left temple approaching the eye."

He explained that the gun was touching Andrews" skin "at some point but not completely."

When asked, Jacobi testified that the cause of death was a bullet going through the brain. He said in his opinion the manner of death was homicide, as opposed to suicide. Jacobi said the wound on the left side of the head is "very uncommon."

He said the wound is also not angled, which is uncommon.

Jacobi said the wound is close to the eye, which is not common, and that it occurred outside in a public gathering, which is also not common for a suicide.

During questioning by the defense, Drew asked if Jacobi knew which hand she used, or if he was "more likely given information that she was right handed," Jacobi said he did not remember.

Drew read excerpts pertaining to findings about self-inflicted gunshot wounds from the Journal of Forensic Sciences to Jacobi and asked if it is "not suspicious if a right-handed person shoots herself in the left temple." Asked if Jacobi was aware of this, he replied that he was aware.

Drew asked Jacobi if he was aware that Brittany Andrews shot pool with her left hand, to which Jacobi said pool was not part of the discussion.

During redirect, Butler asked Jacobi if he knew that the firearm belonged to the defendant and if there was gunshot residue on his clothing. Jacobi said he was not aware.

Drew then asked Jacobi if he knew the weight of Andrews and if Jacobi had changed his opinion about the manner or cause of death.

Jacobi said his opinion had not changed.

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