The Times West Virginian

Local News

March 13, 2014

Palmer’s wife not compelled to testify

During ongoing murder trial; Kristyn Palmer also charged in her father’s death

CLARKSBURG — As part of the first-degree murder trial of Michael Ian Palmer, Marion Circuit Judge Michael John Aloi on Wednesday ruled that Kristyn Lorraine Palmer, Michael Palmer’s wife, is not compelled to testify at her husband’s trial.

Kristyn Palmer is being held at the North Central Regional Jail and has been charged with the premeditated shooting death of her father, Everett “Ed” Wilson, in December 2011. Michael Palmer was arrested in June 2012 and charged with the premeditated murder of his father-in-law, Wilson.

Wilson was shot to death at the Baxter home of his daughter, Kristyn Palmer, and son-in-law, Michael Palmer, on Dec. 11, 2011.

Aloi said although Kristyn Palmer is not compelled to testify, she can do so voluntarily.

“Mrs. Palmer still has charges against her,” he said. “In my opinion, her Fifth Amendment rights trump any Sixth Amendment rights.”

Aloi said Kristyn Palmer’s attorneys object to her testifying at her husband’s trial.

Day three of Michael Palmer’s trial picked up Wednesday morning where it ended Tuesday. During the trial Tuesday, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney Patrick Wilson and defense attorney Sean Murphy gave their opening statements.

In Wilson’s opening statement, he explained to the jury that Ed Wilson was shot at the doorstep of his own house, which he was letting his daughter Kristyn and her husband Michael Palmer live in rent free.

“The evidence will be clear that it is not a justified, self-defense case,” Patrick Wilson said in his opening statement.

In Murphy’s opening statement, he said Ed Wilson entered the house “with the intent to do bodily injury.” He said Wilson kicked the back door of the residence in and that he had brass knuckles in his hand.

“Mr. Palmer exercised his legal right to self-defense,” Murphy said Tuesday.

Continuing his testimony Wednesday with the state, witness Tony Veltri, a deputy with the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and first on the scene the night of Dec. 11, 2011, was presented with 23 new pieces of evidence.

One piece of evidence was a picture of a weapon. Veltri identified the weapon as an AK-47 assault rifle and said it was the weapon he found when he got to the scene the night of Ed Wilson’s death.

“That was the AK-47 that was located in the exercise room,” Veltri told the jury.

Patrick Wilson handed Veltri another piece of evidence. This time it was the actual AK-47 that was taken from the crime scene. Veltri told the jury the gun was the same one that was in the picture they had just been shown.

Other pieces of evidence presented by the state included a magazine from the AK-47, one shell casing and brass knuckles. Veltri said the magazine held other live cartridges and identified the brass knuckles as the same ones found in the palm of Ed Wilson the night of his death.

Veltri told the jury that after the scene was secured, another law enforcement officer removed the magazine from the AK-47. He said there was a live cartridge in the chamber of the gun ready to be shot.

The state showed Veltri a closeup picture of the AK-47’s firing mechanism. Patrick Wilson asked Veltri if he noticed anything different about the area of the gun.

“I took this closeup photograph because I thought there was an unusual, large amount of oil on the gun,” Veltri told the jury.

Veltri said the gun looked as if it had been cleaned recently.

Wilson presented Veltri with a piece of the countertop from the kitchen of the residence where Ed Wilson was shot to death. Two shots were fired the night of Wilson’s death, one going through the countertop and the other killing Wilson.

Patrick Wilson asked Veltri to show the jury where the bullet entered the countertop and where it exited. Veltri pointed to a hole on the rim of the countertop and said the bullet traveled up and exited through the top of the counter.

The next pieces of evidence shown by Wilson to Veltri and the jury were pictures of wood fragments found on the kitchen floor of the residence the night of the shooting. Wilson asked Veltri if he felt that it was necessary to send those wood fragments to a lab to be tested to find out where they came from.

“There was no need to. I could observe that myself,” Veltri told the jury and Wilson.

Veltri said the wood fragments on the floor came from the countertop.

Around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Wilson completed his questioning with Veltri. After a 15-minute break, cross examination began with defense attorney Murphy.

Murphy started his cross examination by questioning Veltri about the wood fragments, which he stated were found in the kitchen and other areas of the residence. Murphy asked Veltri if any of the broken wood fragments were collected as evidence.

Veltri told the jury the wood fragments were not collected by him as evidence.

Murphy went on to ask Veltri if it was critical to preserve all the evidence when covering a crime scene, especially a possible murder scene.

“It was not necessary for me to collect wood chips,” Veltri said.

Murphy continued to ask Veltri if any lab testing had been done on pieces of evidence such as Ed Wilson’s boots, the door knobs of the back door of the residence and the brass knuckles from that night.

Veltri said to his knowledge, Wilson’s boots were not tested for wood fragments, that the door knobs were not tested for fingerprints and the brass knuckles were not tested. He told Murphy and the jury that each case is different and, depending on the circumstances of the case, it’s not always necessary to lift fingerprints.

After the lunch break, Murphy continued the cross examination with Veltri.

Veltri had testified earlier in the trial that he did an experiment to see how fast it took him, as a 32-year-old, to walk from his car, which was parked in the same location as Ed Wilson’s truck the night of his death, to the back door of the residence.

Veltri said it took him 22 seconds to walk from his car to the back porch.

Murphy asked Veltri if he or any other officers from his department ran other experiments involving firing a weapon inside the residence to see if another person could hear a gunshot if they were at the residence next door.

Veltri said he doesn’t fire a weapon in an area where there are homes unless, as a law-enforcement officer, he is subject to do so. He said that to his knowledge, no experiment of firing a weapon in the home was done.

Murphy also asked Veltri about pictures that depicted officers standing in the area where the wood fragments were located. With further questioning, Murphy asked Veltri about the possibility of wood fragments being moved by getting stuck to someone’s shoes.

After the cross examination was complete, Patrick Wilson and Murphy questioned Veltri. Around 3:40 p.m., Veltri was allowed to leave the stand.

More testimony is to come today, and social media may play a role in the questioning of witnesses.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.

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