MAYVILLE - Jason Wells again remained stoic during the second day of his murder trial on Wednesday in Chautauqua County Court.
The prosecution continued its case by calling six police officers to the stand to present evidence they collected at the crime scene at the One Temple Square apartment complex on Feb. 5, 2010. All of the witnesses were members of the Chautauqua County Forensics Investigation Team at the time of the investigation.
Wednesday's trial proceedings wrapped up quickly, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending shortly before 1 p.m. This was in part due to very few objections and little cross-examination from defense attorney Lyle Hajdu when it came to entering into evidence the various photographs taken at the crime scene and a number of blood-spattered and blood-stained items retrieved from there.
"This is not a question about 'whodunit,'" Hajdu said in his opening statement on Tuesday, setting the stage for the trial's biggest debate. "Rather, the question is if the evidence supports an insanity defense or an extreme emotional disturbance. Jason was diagnosed with schizophrenia, remember."
Wells, a 37-year-old resident of the low-income Fredonia apartment complex at the time, allegedly stabbed and beat fellow One Temple Square resident Ruth Fisk, 81, a retired nurse, to death. He faces a charge of second-degree murder, a crime punishable by 25 years to life behind bars.
"The question is if the evidence supports an insanity defense or an extreme emotional disturbance."
The jury of six men and six women took a closer look at the rug that witnesses said Wells wrapped Fisk in after killing her in his apartment, No. 301.
Officer David Arnone unrolled the carpet during his testimony, gesturing to traces of bloodstains on it.
Additional items from Wells' apartment shown to the jury included blood-soaked jeans (located on Wells' bed), blood-stained kitchen towels and a swab of blood taken from a bathroom sink.
One significant item was a Clorox bottle with a bloodstain, originally located in Wells' kitchen.
"It was as if someone handled it with blood on their hands," Arnone remarked, suggesting Wells used it to clean up after killing Fisk.
The forensics investigator also pointed out the carpet underneath the living room couch was cut out.
"The floor there looked like it was heavily blood-soaked. There was also a large bloodstain behind the couch," he said.
County District Attorney David Foley previously indicated in his opening statement that Wells videotaped the actual killing of Fisk. Arnone corroborated that the forensics team obtained a small VHS tape on Wells' living room desk and a video camera in the kitchen.
THE OUTSIDE DUMPSTER
Wells apparently tried to dispose of evidence after Fisk's death by placing a chair, a knife and a purse in One Temple Square's rear parking lot dumpster.
Officers Tad Mackey and Scott Martin of the forensics team investigated the area.
"We had heard at one point that there may be evidence located in that dumpster," Mackey stated.
The policemen located a small, rocking-like chair with its upper-back cushion apparently drenched in blood. This chair may have belonged to Wells because on Tuesday, One Temple Square Manager Barbara Catalano recalled nearly tripping over it during an inspection of the defendant's apartment before the killing.
Resident Sarah Gorczynski also recalled seeing Wells with a grocery cart and the chair in an elevator, the evening after the killing.
At one point, Foley asked Martin to go through a shopping bag full of items collected in the dumpster. Martin pulled out a pair of glasses with blood on the lenses, as well as a small pendant. A small purse inside that bag held documents with Ruth Fisk's name on them, including a driver's license.
One of Fisk's family members began sobbing in the court audience when she saw her loved one's picture on the license.
Mackey and Martin also located a handle and blade that seemed to fit together; both had spots of blood on them.
Fisk's apartment, No. 115, may have been a secondary crime scene, but Officer Todd Beckerink uncovered clues indicating Ruth disappeared for quite some time.
Beckerink testified he found a walker in Fisk's living room, as well as a collection of old coins and books scattered on her bed. Also, two OBSERVER newspapers from Feb. 4 and 5, 2010 were left under Fisk's apartment door, signaling she never picked them up.
Trial proceedings should continue once again today at 9:30 a.m., with the prosecution planning to play the tape of the killing for the jury.