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'Friend' says Odell showed him a gun before shooting

September 27, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The gun used to kill Debbie K. Bivens in August 2005 has not been found, but a friend of the Berkeley County man on trial for shooting her testified Tuesday that he was shown what might have been the .40-caliber weapon used in her homicide before it happened.

"We had a partying relationship," said Ramsey Turner of his friend, Timothy C. Odell, who police believe was hired to kill Bivens, 46, who died Aug. 21 in her Inwood, W.Va., home.

Odell, 26, was indicted in February by a grand jury on counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Benjamin Brookman, the man police said hired Odell, committed suicide by shooting and hanging himself at the same time after learning Bivens was killed, officials have said.

A jury of eight women and four men and one female alternate juror was seated Tuesday in the first day of Odell's trial.

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Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely today is expected to conclude the presentation of the state's case against Odell with testimony by a deputy in the state medical examiner's office and Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Cpl. B.F. Hall. Jurors also are expected to watch a two-hour video of Odell's voluntary statement to investigators on Aug. 25, 2005, the day after Bivens was found dead on the floor of her bedroom. Her body was in a stage of decomposition, according to testimony heard Tuesday.

Turner testified Tuesday that Odell came to his home off Midshipman Lane the evening of Aug. 19 and asked him if he wanted to make some money - $10,000 - to transport him from W.Va. 51 east, apparently near Bivens' home in Camelot subdivision. Turner said he thought it best not to ask why.

"I can't say I wasn't curious, but I didn't want to know," said Turner, noting he was aware of "things" Odell had done in the past.

Defense attorney B. Craig Manford acknowledged his client had slashed Bivens' tires and broken the windshield of her car in opening statements.

"He's sorry for that, but that's how he gets involved in this case to begin with," Manford said.

Odell denies being the shooter in Bivens' death and Manford said Tuesday that his client was "duped."

"This whole case is going to come to whether you believe Timmy Odell," Manford told the jury, noting the accused had no prior criminal record.

Turner testified Tuesday that while taking a ride with Odell to a nearby convenience store and then past where Bivens resided, he remembered the accused saying he had calculated it had taken 90 seconds to travel from a privacy fence near Bivens' home to the Sheetz in Inwood.

In cross-examination by Manford, Turner acknowledged that his memory of Odell's calculation only "came to me" in the last couple days.

Turner also noted that Odell made some reference to selling the handgun or getting rid of it before leaving, but he wasn't interested in having the weapon. Turner admitted to Manford that he didn't own a .40-caliber handgun, but insisted he could still identify one. Turner denied owing Odell money for drugs, but did say that he and Odell had used drugs together in the three years they had been friends. Turner said Odell visited him about 8:30 p.m. Friday and then acknowledged in questioning by Manford that the accused usually worked from 3 to 11 p.m. at Variform Inc.

Games-Neely had former Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Capt. K.C. Bohrer recount arresting Odell as the accused arrived there. Bohrer also testified that he believed the gun used to shoot Bivens was fired after glass had been broken out of a window on the south side of the home.

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