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Last updated on Saturday, May 12, 2012
(SALEM) - Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, of the Leader-Democart, reports, the state tried to establish its contention that two weapons were fired at Roy and Tim M. Orman and that two people fired those weapons as the double murder trial of Tammy Spengler continued Friday morning in Washington Circuit Court.
On his redirect of state police crime scene investigator Darryl Terrell, defense attorney David Smith tried to show there was no direct evidence Spengler was in the room when the murders occurred.
The two men, brothers who were in their mid-50s, were shot to death in June 2011. Their badly decomposed bodies were found lying in a shed a few feet from the home, owned by Timothy M. Orman, after Spengler called police and turned herself in for the crime. Her attorney has said his client was accepting blame for her boyfriend, Timothy R. Orman, and did not do what she initially said she did.
The gun from which the deadly shots were fired has never been found, although numerous guns were recovered from the property.
Terrell, who was on the stand a total of about eight hours, recounted how he and the ISP team processed the crime scene, what evidence was gathered and what was left behind, and what the autopsy of the men revealed.
Smith suggested perhaps Terrell focused on items - such as numerous prescription pill bottles - that have no bearing on the case, while choosing not to test other items, such as footprints in the dirt in the area where the murders occurred, a mop and bucket Terrell said were used to clean up the crime scene and a shovel that was found lying near an excavation area the state claims was intended to be a gravesite.
Referring to numerous photographs of pill bottles, Smith said, "People think that's relevant to the scene." Terrell replied, "You don't know at the time what is going to be relevant. ... when you have a scene like this, it's overwhelming. ... You have to focus your efforts on what's most productive."
Terrell explained the shovel wasn't tested because it had been exposed to the elements. Questioned over how long the excavation area had been there, he said, "In my opinion, I don't think the hole had been dug more than two or three weeks, a month tops," basing that on his observation that no weeds or grass were yet growing in it. Smith pointed out there was a large garden area nearby, implying the digging was simply part of the garden plot.
As for the footprints in the dirt where the murders occurred, Terrell said it was after midnight when officers arrived at the scene and it wasn't immediately apparent where the men had been shot. That area was unintentionally contaminated by police officers walking in it.
Terrell explained that real life police work bears virtually no resemblance to crime shows such as the popular CSI. "On CSI, they stand at the scene and do it (analyze evidence) right there. That's not reality." Reality, he said, is a state police lab which will analyze only 10 items at a time from a murder scene, and reality is a state police storage facility that has limited space. "We have to follow standards on what's collected," Terrell explained. Smith asked him if there was a degree of guesswork that went into processing a scene for relevant information. "Sometimes, it is," said Terrell. "We don't keep every piece of evidence. Mistakes get made ... errors occurr. ... sometimes you don't know until it's too late what's relevant."
Discussing the autopsies, Terrell said the bodies had evidence of two different types of ammunition; buckshot and slugs. Prosecutor Dustin Houchin asked Terrell about the fact that the empty casings from the shots weren't recovered at the scene. "Those spent casings had to be removed from the scene," Terrell testified.
Houchin questioned Terrell regarding how many shots he believed had been fired at the two victims. Based on the autopsies, a minimum of two shots were fired at each one, plus there was evidence two shots had hit the inside of a door where the alleged murders occurred. "It could be as high as eight," said Terrell.
With the average shotgun holding a maximum of four rounds, one would have to reload to reach six or eight shots, Terrell said. The shots were fired from a 12-gauge shotgun and while one was recovered at the scene, it was tested and found not to be the murder weapon.
Police did recover the sawed off barrel of a shotgun, but did not find the gun matching it. Under questioning by the state, he said a sawed off shotgun is easier to conceal and maneuver, especially within the confines of a house.
Terrell testified that local law enforcement officers briefed him on the domestic issues between Timothy M. Orman and his son, Timothy R. Orman, who is also charged in the case and is to be tried separately. "They had an on and off again relationship," he said. Roy Orman had obtained protective orders prohibiting his nephew and Spengler from having contact with him. During Terrell's testimony, it was noted that every room inside the house was locked and that nearly all the locks had been broken. "You would have to be trying to bust them open on purpose," Terrell said.
The defendant, 24, is a small, petite woman. Her attorney indicated she wouldn't be capable of accurately firing a 12-gauge shotgun and questioned Terrell regarding that. Terrell testified that a degree of physical strength and coordination is needed. "It's hard to answer. My son was 7 or eight the first time he fired one." And while the kick didn't knock the child down, Terrell said, "He didn't want any more of it."
Houchin, on redirect, asked Terrell, "Is a young adult woman capable of firing a shotgun?
"Yes, she is," he replied.
The trial continues this afternoon with testimony from the medical examiners who were involved with the autopsy.
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