Debbie RolenStaff Writer
November 15, 2012
LOGAN — On day two of the Godby murder trial, alleged beatings are seen as the reason for self defense or a motive for murder.
In each of their testimonies, both Logan County Sheriff’s Dept. officers Burley Ferrell and Jason Mathis described Jerry Godby on the day of the incident. Each said he was calm when they responded to the 911 call he made from his residence saying his wife had attacked him and he shot her. Mathis said when he arrived, Godby was sitting on the front porch holding his face in his hands.
As he cross-examined each officer, defense attorney Brian Abraham reiterated the change in West Virginia law that occurred in 2009. The change in the law states deadly force may be used to defend against an attack in the residence. Another point he focused on was Jerry Godby’s unwaivering statements of shooting his wife in self defense.
Abraham questioned Corporal Burley Ferrell on the timeline of events the night of the incident. He asked Ferrell repeatedly if any evidence was found that contradicted Mr. Godby’s claim of self defense.
Ferrell answered no, but said sometimes you have to look deeper; factual evidence isn’t the only thing to consider. He went on to testify there were physical issues to consider. Mrs. Godby was drunk, and she was never successful in hitting him with the beer bottle despite the fact he went by her into the bedroom to get the gun and back by her into the kitchen.
Abraham questioned as to who made the decision to charge Mr. Godby. Corporal Ferrell said it was Logan County Prosecuting Attorney John Bennett and Chief Sonja Porter said to charge him right after the incident and later the Grand Jury.
According to the sequence of events, Abraham said their minds were made up that this was a murder.
“A death does not a murder make does it?” Abraham asked Ferrell, then after saying charges were made based on Mr. Godby’s statement and circumstantial evidence he asked, “Getting beat on is a motive for murder?”
“Sure it is,” answered Ferrell.
The court listened to a recording of the interview of Jerry Godby conducted by Dep. Mathis at the Chapmanville Town Hall and Deputy Mathis answered detailed questions about the timeline of events, focusing on the fact that Mr. Godby was arrested within minutes of officers arriving on the scene despite his report of being attacked and acting in self defense.
West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner James A. Kaplan performed the autopsy on Mrs. Godby. He explained the meaning of a forensic examination as looking at everything including autopsy findings, the situation, the clothing and they consider all the information to determine and rule on a cause of death.
Dr. Kaplan read from his report on Mrs. Godby’s autopsy that she died as the result of a gunshot wound to the chest and had a fresh bruise on the back of her left wrist. He said he sent material scraped from beneath the victim’s fingernails to be analyzed. The toxocology report noted a high level of alcohol in the blood and the presence low levels of two anti-anxiety drugs. Her cause of death was ruled to be from a gunshot wound; a homicide.
Defense Attorney began his cross examination of Dr. Kaplan asking for a clarification, “Homicide does not mean murder?”
Dr. Kaplan said it meant death at the hands of another.
When shown photos of the injuries Mr. Godby had at the time of his arrest, Dr. Kaplan said it didn’t take much of a trauma to cause that kind of lacerations. He noted the injuries as superficial lacerations and bruising on both forearms, a bruise or laceration on his lip and a bruise on the side of his face. Dr. Kaplan said these injuries could have been the result of an altercation. The doctor said the lacerations look like fingernail scratches and the bruising was not from blows, but she may have slapped him to cause the bruising on his face. The doctor said the injuries may or may not be defensive wounds, also making reference to the fresh bruise found on the outside of Mrs. Godby’s left wrist.
Mr. Abraham said it seemed from the extent of the injuries Mrs. Godby had gotten the better of Mr. Godby.
Dr. Kaplan said, “Actually, no. Otherwise we would not be in this courtroom today.”
The next two witnesses called for the state work in the W.Va. State Police Forensic Laboratory.
Alison Sims is a latent print examiner. She testified she examined evidence including the Sam Adams beer bottle and the revolver and concluded there were no identifiable prints on either. The item may have ridges or smudged prints, but none that can be used for identification.
Melissa Runyon runs DNA tests. She examined scrapings taken from the victim’s left and right fingernails, from the bedroom door frame and reference samples from both Jerry and Delores Godby.
The testing of the left fingernail specimen indicated the material collected was Delores Godby’s and no foreign DNA was present. The right fingernail had some foreign DNA, but not enough to make an identification. The bedroom door swab was not DNA from Delores Godby, but was also insufficient to make an identification.
The state rested its case Tues. afternoon.
Judge Roger Perry told the jury the defense will present its case and expects the matter to be concluded Wed.