The Wrongful Conviction of Kara Garvin
OPENING STATEMENT OF BEHALF OF THE PLAINTIFF
MS. HUTCHENSON: Thank you, your honor. May it please the court, opposing counsel, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, good morning. Again, my name is Julie Hutchinson, and I along with Pat Apel represent the State of Ohio. Before we get into the evidence of this case I'd like to sincerely thank you for your time. We all understand that this is a hardship for each of you. If you don't understand the importance of your service as jurors, we hope you will after this experience. The service of citizens of this community and other communities as jurors is what sets the American justice system apart from other countries. There aren’t many countries, believe it or not, that utilize jury systems. Only about a handful. Having said that, His Honor has talked to you a little about what your role is. And to reiterate that, your role is to judge the credibility of the witnesses, to determine what the facts are and to render a true verdict. And that’s all we ask that you do.
This defendant is charge with aggravated burglary, three counts of aggravated robbery based on the use of a deadly weapon, three counts of aggravated robbery based on inflicting serious physical harm, three counts of aggravated murder during the commission of an aggravated burglary, three counts of aggravated murder during the commission of an aggravated robbery, three counts of aggravated murder with prior calculation and design, theft of drugs, tampering with evidence and a firearms specification.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you understand that there are three murders and several different counts based on different theories or different statutes of the law. Each is separate and each you will find is supported by the State’s evidence. His Honor, Judge Harcha, will instruct you that the only evidence you are to consider is that which comes from the witness stand in the form of testimony, exhibits and things that may be stipulated to by the parties.
So what is the State’s evidence? The State’s evidence will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the 22ndday of December, 2008, at approximately 6:37 p.m., in the evening, this 911 call was received by the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office.
911 CALL IS PLAYED
Ms. HUTCHCHENSON: The evidence will be that on that evening Ed Mollett, his wife Juanita, and his daughter Christina, were shot and killed in the presence of six year old Anthony Stapleton. Not only was the shooting done in his presence, the evidence will show that the child was covered in blood from the bullet that exited his Aunt Christine’s head. Detective, deputies, emergency medical personnel and some friends and family arrived on the scene. The evidence will be that young Anthony gave a description of a girl with dark or black hair wearing a camo coat and vest with guns in it; came in and shot his family; took some pills and his grandpa Ed Mollett’s wallet, then left driving what was described as a tan Jeep type vehicle. The evidence will be that Paul Balmer and his Defendant drove a vehicle matching that description. The evidence will also be that this Defendant was familiar with the victims.
That night the little boy picked this Defendant from a photo lineup. He was asked to sign his name which if you’ll notice in the picture is signed backwards. He was asked – the testimony will be he was asked if he was sure that this was the woman of the girl, and he said yes, and he said that he had seen her at his grandpa Ed Mollett’s before.
You will hear from James Damron, who you just herard of the audo. He goes by Bob. This man can’t read or write. You heard that on the audio. He has a speech impediment. He might not be of average intelligence, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, but he will tell you what he saw that night. He’ll tell you that he lives at the bottom of the hill near where the murdrs occurred. He’ll tell you that he saw a vehicle matching what was described as the tan Jeep leaving the driveway just before Anthony came down. And you'll hear that he told officers that he couldn't pick anyone out of the photo line and we'll ask him to explain that to you. But you'll also hear that the very next day he did pick this Defendant from the photo lineup.
Paul Balmer who is incarcerated and serving 17 years in prison will be here. He'll tell you that he agreed to testify truthfully in the case in which he is serving time and in this case. Paul Balmer will testify that he drove this Defendant to 287C Snook Road, Franklin Furnace, Ohio, here in this Scioto County. This residence. And he drove her there to get pills. Balmer and this Defendant then left Scioto County and headed for Greenup, Kentucky. The two of them rented a motel room. This Defendant purchased hair color from a Family Dollar. They returned to the motel room, she changed her clothes. This Defendant and Paul Balmer went to Subway and grabbed a chicken teriyaki sandwich. She's on video. They're both on video at the Subway. They returned to the motel room and she colored her hair, showered, changed her clothes again, shot up drugs and then agreed to go to the Scioto County Sheriff's Office for questioning accompanied by her cousin, Rick Nash, a local attorney. Balmer will testify that when this Defendant contacted him she told him she was being charged with three counts of aggravated murder and that he took these items and the vest with the guns, tossed them out on the side of the road and he left for Florida. Shortly after the murders when Balmer was brought back from Florida he revealed to detectives where the personal items of this Defendant were. That included camouflaged clothing, empty box of hair color, gloves, and sleeveless vest type shirt with firearms, a derringer, a 380 semi-automatic and a 38 special revolver. The evidence will reveal that the Taurus 38 special was given to this Defendant by her husband, Robert Applegate as a gift. According to the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the bullets retrieved from the bodies of Ed Mollett, Juanita Mollett and Christina Mollett match those shot from the 38 special revolver. The Defendant's DNA is present on that handgun. Two other DNAs are present on that handgun. We'llask the DNA analyst to explain that to you. Those DNAs are not
Paul Balmer's. The Defendant's DNA is present on that vest typeshirt. So is Paul Balmer's. Paul Balmer will testify that was his shirt.
A gunshot residue is present on the Defendant's gloves and boots as well as DNA belonging to the Defendant on rubber gloves that were inside the mechanics gloves. The State of Ohio will present to you a video statement of this Defendant at the Scioto County Sheriff's Office. She admits she knows the victims but claims she hasn't been to their residence in a long time. When asked about her involvement in their murders, she states I don't have any. She says she Paul Balmer's around 3:00 or 4:00 that day to go to a hotel in Greenup. She insisted I don't have any guns. She admitted she went to Family Dollar but she claimed she had colored her hair at three or four o'clock in the morning at Paul Balmer's house, not the evening after the murders The State of Ohio will present to you several females who spent time in jail with this Defendant, and each will tell you why she was incarcerated and how she ended up in here on this witness stand testifying. Each will tell you what this
Defendant has had to say about the murders of Ed Mollett,
Juanita Mollett and Christina Mollett in the presence of that six year old child.
Remember, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you, not us, not them, you are the judges of credibility. You determine what the facts are. Please keep that in mind as you weigh the evidence and the testimony throughout this trial. And once you have received all of the evidence, you will have received proof beyond a reasonable doubt and we will ask that you return a verdict of guilty on each count against this Defendant. Thank you for your time.