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'I didn't shoot nobody'

Jury hears police interview accused

Jury hears police interview accused

September 28, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Timothy C. Odell repeatedly denied shooting a 46-year-old Inwood, W.Va., woman in August 2005 in a recorded, two-hour interview that was shown to jurors seated for the second day of his murder trial Wednesday.

Indicted on counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy, the 27-year-old Berkeley County man did not testify Wednesday in his own defense, but the day after Debbie K. Bivens was found dead at her home, Odell repeatedly told Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies Capt. K.C. Bohrer and Cpl. B.F. Hall another man pulled the trigger. Defense attorney B. Craig Manford also had four witnesses testify on Odell's behalf, including his client's stepsister, former girlfriend and roommate before proceedings were halted Wednesday. Jurors are expected to be given instructions today before Manford and Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely give closing arguments.

"All I did I was break the window (of Biven's home). That's all I did," Odell told the deputies Aug. 25, 2005. "I didn't shoot nobody."

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In the interview, Odell also told deputies he was to be paid by Benjamin Brookman of Salisbury, Md., to drive the supposed shooter to Bivens' Camelot subdivision home. Odell also admitted to Bohrer and Hall that he was aware of what was planned and that a firearm was going to be involved, but repeatedly denied ever having the murder weapon, allegedly a .40-caliber handgun. The weapon still has not been found, Hall testified Tuesday.

Odell's statement was shown to jurors after state deputy chief medical examiner Zia Sabet testified that his scientific findings led him to estimate Bivens died Aug. 21.

A forensic pathologist, Sabet said Bivens had been shot from a distance greater than two feet and determined her manner of death to be homicide. The .40-caliber bullet entered Bivens' left chest cavity and traveled to the right side of her body, which police found on the floor of her bedroom Aug. 24, he said.

After Odell's interview was presented to the jury, Hall clarified Wednesday that a physical examination of the defendant's skin for gunshot residue completed near the end of the interview was not sent to the West Virginia State Police laboratory for analysis.

On cross-examination by Manford, Hall admitted that he actually had the completed gunshot residue kit examined after being shown a list of items that were submitted to the lab with his signature at the bottom. No evidence was recovered.

Hall had told Games-Neely the residue kit was part of a series of tactics employed by he and Bohrer to gain a confession from Odell and that any residue would have been lost after so many days had passed.

Hall said Odell's description of the supposed shooter he drove to Bivens home after meeting him at the intersection of W.Va. 45 and the western end of W.Va. 51 was vague.

"He almost described me to a T," Hall said.

Last year, Odell told Bohrer and Hall that he didn't show a .40-caliber handgun - the suspected murder weapon - to friend Ramsey Turner a couple days before Bivens was killed. Defense witnesses Michael L. Nelson, who is Odell's former roommate, and Rebecca Holbrook, Odell's former girlfriend, both recounted other instances when Turner had lied to them about the accused. They also testified that Turner had partied frequently and used illegal drugs, including cocaine and had snorted crushed pills. Hall testified Wednesday that it was his understanding that Turner had "a criminal history."

"He has a reputation for not being truthful," Holbrook said.

Though "satisfactory" in his job performance, a human resources coordinator with Polo Ralph Lauren distribution center in Berkeley County testified that Turner was dismissed in August 2005 because he refused to submit to a drug test.

Nelson acknowledged to Games-Neely that his former roommate was a recreational marijuana user, an admission that was part of Odell's statement to police.

Odell's stepsister, Salina Chrismond, Holbrook and Nelson confirmed they were aware of Odell's vandalism of Bivens' vehicle a couple years ago, but did not believe he was a violent person.

"He's never hurt anybody on purpose," Chrismond said.

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