09/21/06 — Testimony is continuing in Telly Cox trial

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Testimony is continuing in Telly Cox trial

By Lee Williams
Published in News on September 21, 2006 1:50 PM

The double murder trial of 23-year-old Telly Cox continued Wednesday as jurors heard testimony from at least four expert witnesses who say evidence collected at 176 Garrick Lane link Cox and his co-conspirator to the murders.

North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) fingerprint and shoe impression analyst Nikkola Russell; SBI forensic DNA analyst Jennifer Elwell; SBI firearm and tool mark examiner Thomas Trochum; and retired SBI agent, Jed Taub, a forensic serologist, took the witness stand to reveal their findings of evidence examined in the Cox case.

Cox, of LaGrange, and his accomplice, 22-year-old Chris Brown, are accused of murdering Michael Maynard, 30, and his girlfriend, Christie Jones, 25, in Maynard's mobile home New Year's Day in 2004. Both victims died from a gunshot wound to the neck.

After the murders, Cox and Brown allegedly stole a crossbow, two .22-caliber rifles and a box of shotgun shells from Maynard's home. The stolen items were later recovered by the Wayne County Sheriff's Department.

Brown has since pleaded guilty to the murders and is serving two consecutive life sentences in prison. Brown's girlfriend, 22-year-old Alonza Bedell, who drove the getaway car, also pleaded guilty to being an accessory to the crime after the fact.

Brown allegedly knew Maynard because he sold and used cocaine with him.

Russell, the fingerprint and shoe impression expert, testified Cox's fingerprint of his left pinkie finger was lifted from the gun cabinet door hinge in Maynard's room.

"That was verified by myself," Russell told the court.

Russell testified no fingerprints found in the home matched Brown's.

"There was a latent palm print that was unidentified," Russell said. She said there were no palm prints of Cox, Brown, or Bedell, available on file to compare them.

Russell also noted shoeprints of Cox's gray and black running shoes and Brown's black Nike shoes were found at the murder scene.

Taub, the retired SBI agent who now works for the Pitt County Sheriff's Office, testified that he found the presence of blood on Brown's jeans and right shoe.

On cross examination, Defense Attorney Mike Howell asked Taub, "You did not find any blood items on any clothing of Mr. Cox?"

"That is correct," Taub responded.

Elwell, the forensic DNA expert, examined blood found on Brown's jeans he was still wearing when he was arrested hours after the murders Jan. 1, 2004. Elwell testified the blood on Brown's jeans matched Maynard's blood sample collected during an autopsy.

Before Elwell testified, Defense Attorneys Howell and Rosemary Godwin and Wayne County Assistant District Attorney Claud Ferguson went head-to-head in another legal brawl when Ms. Godwin raised an objection to a tape recording the prosecutor wanted to play for the jurors.

The tape recording was taken from Maynard's daughter, Bailey, two hours after the murders. On the tape, Bailey made assertions that she did not testify to in court.

"It goes well beyond what she testified to," Ms. Godwin said. "It is hearsay."

Ms. Godwin said the state could have played the tape while she was on the witness stand to refresh Bailey's memory and then given them a chance to cross examine her, but the state chose not to do that. Ms. Godwin added the tape recording did not corroborate Bailey's testimony in its entirety, and it also introduced new theories.

But Ferguson contended the tape recording of Bailey's statement should be allowed in court because Bailey recalled things about the murders that she did not recall when she took the witness stand Monday.

Ferguson asked presiding Superior Court Judge Russell Lanier Jr. to grant an exception. Bailey was 7 years old at the time of the murders. Today, she is 10.

"We think this is particularly appropriate for a small child and the passing of time," Ferguson said.

Judge Lanier weighed in on the matter.

"Normally, this is done to refresh the memory of the witness while they are still present," Lanier said. "This does put the defense at a disadvantage."

Lanier read the transcript of the tape recording and decided not to allow the tape recording to be played for the jurors.

The trial resumed at 9 a.m. today in Courtroom 4 at the Wayne County Courthouse.