The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

March 8, 2012

Prosecutor: Kim Williams was murdered

WASHINGTON — The Daviess County Prosecutor’s Office  presented a large amount of evidence after two and a half days of introducing witnesses in the murder trial of Derek Williams, who’s accused of shooting his wife, Kimberly, on Feb. 4, 2011.

On Tuesday, after hearing the perspectives of people who were on the scene at some point during the night Kim Williams was killed, jurors heard about evidence collected from the crime scene. Daviess County Sheriff’s Lt. Chuck Milton, a certified crime scene investigator, explained he gathered evidence at the crime scene and autopsy, as well as on other occasions.

He began by describing the handgun used in the shooting and how it works. He identified it, shell casings and lead fragments found at the scene. Milton also explained that investigators returned to the scene in August 2011 and found a lead bullet in the rafter area of the house.

Other evidence entered in the case so far includes: Kim’s cell phone; Indiana State Police Evidence Collection Kits and fingerprint cards for both Kim and Derek Williams; swabs of blood and tissue taken from carpet, walls and ceiling; a tissue clutched in Kim’s hand and one found on a downstairs nightstand; and autopsy and crime scene photos, as well as photos of divorce papers served to Derek.

Susan Laine and Heidi Haas, forensic scientists in the ISP Lab Division in Evansville, later described what they did with the evidence, quality assurance measures used at the lab, and their results. The two scientists told jurors they’d performed thousands of tests and testified in court several times.

“I did a blood examination on the shirt Kim Williams wore,” Laine said. “I made cuttings on the shirt and submitted them to another analyst for DNA testing.”

According to Haas, six blood samples from Kim’s nightshirt matched her DNA profile, and one matched Derek’s. Other samples were a mix of two DNA samples, she said, explaining that one profile was Kim’s, but the other was a minor DNA mix that was harder to identify. She testified she couldn’t rule out that it was Derek’s, but she also couldn’t confirm that it was.

The forensic DNA analyst continued, telling the jury that blood under Kim’s head, on the tissue in her hand and on the tissue on the nightstand matched her DNA. Blood from the swabs taken from another area of the living room rug, two areas of the ceiling and the living room wall matched Derek’s DNA. A swab taken of the bullet from the rafter was a mixture, but was a major match for Derek. Haas said she couldn’t conclude if Kim’s DNA was on that bullet.

In cross examination, defense attorney Tonya Shaw asked the forensic scientists if they’d visited the scene or had any knowledge of what transpired on Feb. 4 or prior. They testified they did not and that they could only testify as to their test results.

Dr. James Jacobi, a forensic pathologist who conducted Kim’s autopsy, also was a witness for the prosecution Tuesday. Jacobi explained to jurors the autopsy process in general. Then the prosecutor walked Jacobi through Kim Williams’ autopsy. The jury was shown autopsy photos as Jacobi described what they were viewing.

“She had a total of four gunshot wounds,” he told them.

They saw close-up photos of two gunshot wounds to Kim’s face, the first of which Jacobi said killed her, and photos of entry and exit wounds on the woman’s forearm, which the pathologist described as defensive wounds. Some other photos showed the trajectory of the bullets, bullet fragments recovered from her brain and stippling on the cheeks and chin.

Based on his autopsy observations, Jacobi concluded the first bullet went through Kim’s upheld forearm and into her upper lip, close to the nose, and continued into her brain. He said that shot would’ve killed her immediately.

“After the first bullet, there would’ve been no movement, no threat,” he said. “The damage to the brain was very significant.”

That shot, he estimated, was fired from more than a foot away. The second shot, which traveled almost the same path into the brain, he said, was fired from less than a foot away.

“The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the upper lip, which resulted in the bullet passing through the brain,” Jacobi said.

Under further questioning, Jacobi said there’s no chance it was suicide or an accident. He said it would take two intentional acts, and Kim would’ve been unable to fire the second shot.

“The first wound would be fatal,” he stressed. “She’d be unconscious.”

During cross examination, Shaw asked Jacobi if he’d been at the scene or had observed an altercation between Kim and Derek. He told her he’d never even seen Derek until the trial.

Shaw also questioned a change in Jacobi’s autopsy results last August. He explained that, at first, he thought the stippling had been caused by tissue and bone fragments from the arm. Upon further study, though, he determined it was from gunpowder residue. There was no stippling on the forearm.

Under redirect, the prosecution asked Jacobi, “Since it isn’t an accident or suicide, how did you rule it?” He replied, “Homicide.”

Though the doctor told Shaw he couldn’t say why the second shot was fired, Prosecutor Dan Murrie asked his opinion on the matter.

“Due to the nature of the injuries, I’d have to say the second shot was to make sure she was finished,” he said.

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