Scott County

Coroner’s testimony in Georgetown murder trial conflicts with defendant’s statement

Melinda (aka Mindy) Sue Barker-Turner, 36, Owenton, Ky.  Photo provided by Scott Co. Detention Center
Melinda (aka Mindy) Sue Barker-Turner, 36, Owenton, Ky. Photo provided by Scott Co. Detention Center

Evidence indicated that Max Pomeroy Jr. had been dead longer than Melinda “Mindy” Turner had initially told police at the crime scene, prosecution witnesses testified Tuesday in the second day of Turner’s trial.

Turner, 41, is accused of murder in the Aug. 9, 2010, stabbing death of Pomeroy in Georgetown. The couple lived together in a house on East Washington Street and had planned to marry, previous witnesses have testified.

Police found Pomeroy’s body lying face-up in the kitchen after Turner had called 911. Turner told police that three black men had broken into the house, had stabbed Pomeroy and then left through a back door just minutes before police arrived. Turner told police that she had been talking to a dying Pomeroy immediately before investigators entered the house.

But Scott County Coroner John Goble, who has been involved with 1,500 death investigations over 14 years, testified that what he saw at the scene indicated that Pomeroy had been dead two to three hours.

For example, the blood around the body had begun to dry and had congealed. The stiffening of muscles and joints had begun. The body’s skin was cool to the touch. Blood smears on the legs had dried. And blood, no longer pumped by the heart, had begun to settle to the lowest points in the body.

“I felt he had been dead for a while,” Goble said.

Goble couldn’t say with certainty how long Pomeroy had been dead. But, he said, “I can tell you this: It did not just happen.”

Under cross-examination by public defender Nathan Goodrich, Goble said he didn’t remember whether air conditioning was on in the house, which might have accounted for some of the coroner’s observations.

Rodney Johnson, the lead detective in the case, testified that a search behind the house and surrounding area didn’t turn up any blood trails, footprints, broken sticks or any other indications that intruders had fled the house.

“We looked,” Johnson said. “We scoured the area. We didn’t find anything. There was nothing to be found.”

Defense co-counsel Doug Crickmer said in his opening statement Monday that police came to a “rush to judgment” in charging Turner with murder. Crickmer also said Monday that it is possible, but not certain, that Turner will testify.

On Tuesday, the jury listened to a 911 call in which Turner was screaming hysterically, and jurors heard audio from when police had arrived at the house. Jurors also watched a video recording of the crime scene depicting Pomeroy lying on the kitchen floor amid knives and other debris on the floor.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Scott Circuit Court.