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Medical examiner details fatal stabbings

August 21, 2002|by KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

Daniel and Wilda Davis each were stabbed multiple times in the back and chest and bound with shoelaces, a medical examiner and a forensic scientist testified Tuesday during the second day of the murder trial of Russell Wayne Wagner.

Wagner is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Feb. 14, 1994, deaths of the Davises in their 109 W. Wilson Blvd. home. Their bodies were found the following day.

Wagner was tried on two counts of first-degree murder in their deaths in 1996, but the jury failed to reach a verdict. He was re-indicted on the same charges in 2001 based on what prosecutors say was new applications of DNA on evidence collected by Hagerstown City Police after the slayings.

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Medical examiner Laron Locke testified that Daniel Davis, 84, was stabbed nine times in the chest and six times in the back. He was stabbed in the heart several times, said Locke.

Wilda Davis, 80, was stabbed about five times in the chest and abdomen and four times in the back, he said.

Both died from blood loss resulting from their wounds, he said.

"I believe the wounds were inflicted at approximately the same time," Locke said.

Locke said both Daniel and Wilda Davis would have died quickly from their wounds. Neither had defensive wounds and there were no scrapes on their wrists or ankles where they were bound, he said.

Hagerstown City Police forensic scientist Jeffrey Kercheval testified that he searched for evidence at the Davis home with detectives Bill Rourke and Ernest Stoner on Feb. 15, 1994.

Kercheval said when they went through the home, they found lights and the television on, dirty dishes in the sink and about two inches of water in the bathtub.

There were signs that dressers and stands in the home had been ransacked, he said under questioning by Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Joseph Michael.

A plastic tub filled with potato salad had been placed on a stand in the foyer, he said.

During Monday's testimony, the Davises daughter Vivian Monger testified that her mother had made potato salad and her husband, Ted Monger Sr., had repeatedly forgotten to pick it up.

Monger said under questioning by Michael that she discussed the potato salad with her mother during a phone call on the morning of Feb. 14.

Several family members testified Monday that the Davises kept money in a stand in the foyer to pay their utilities. Monger testified that when she lived there they didn't keep money in the home.

Kercheval said although the Davises had lost a lot of blood, no blood stains were found outside the kitchen where their bodies were found and no footprints were found inside the home.

Defense attorney Susan Puhula asked Kercheval about an evidence chain of custody form that had been misplaced.

Kercheval said the form was briefly lost but he found it. In the interim, he had another prepared using a photocopy of the original as a guide.

Puhula questioned Kercheval about a hair of his that was found on the murder weapon, a hunting knife with a 5-inch blade.

Kercheval replied that he put on and took off latex gloves several times while taking pictures of evidence and he has hair on his hands.

Pahula has said during her opening statement Monday that the branch of DNA science used by the FBI is in its infancy and that contamination can affect the result.

Kercheval was asked to explain why Wilda Davis is seen in a crime scene photo with her head resting on the kitchen table when she had been sitting up when her body was found.

Kercheval said he didn't know.

No fingerprints or blood belonging to Wagner were found in the home but a palm print of former Hagerstown City Detective Robert Voytko was found near the microwave, Kercheval testified.

The hands and feet of Daniel and Wilda Davis were tied with shoelaces and shoelaces were found in a kitchen cupboard, he said.

The owner of a Frederick County construction company which employed Wagner at the time of the murders testified that Wagner was paid $77.11 for the pay period Feb. 4, 1994 to Feb. 10, 1994.

During his opening statement Michael said that Wagner hadn't earned much in the week before the Davises died, but bought multiple drinks for his friends and himself at a bar the night of their slayings.

Testimony was to resume today.

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