Timothy Demery trial begins

Testimony starts in two-year-old murder case

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   The trial for a Carter County man charged with first degree murder in the March 14, 2002 death of David Harmon began Monday morning in Carter County Criminal Court.
   Jury selection in the case took over two hours and jurors heard from nine witnesses, including the widow of the victim, Patsy Harmon and Beth Demery, wife of Timothy Lee Demery, 27, who is charged with David Harmon's death.
   Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin told the jury in his opening remarks that the events leading to the death of Harmon revolved around some money that went missing from Demery's residence which he shared with his wife, their daughter and his first cousin, Harold Bishop II. "Shortly before March 14 of 2002, the defendant's wife, Beth, got an income tax return. The defendant got part of that money," Baldwin said.
   Baldwin said that some of the money which Demery had gotten from his wife came up missing and, on March 13, Demery told his wife that he knew who had taken the money and said that he intended to confront the individual about it. "She tried to dissuade him from doing that," Baldwin said. "He sent her to spend the night with someone else (with their daughter). The defendant tells Jeff Grimes to take his (Demery's) wife and child to his place."
   At that time, Baldwin said, Beth Demery and Grimes both attempted to get Timothy Demery to come with them to Grimes' residence, and he told them that he would stop by later that evening. He later called them that night and said that he was not coming.
   Baldwin also said that, on the morning of March 14, 2002, Demery called his cousin, Bishop. "The defendant tells Mr. Bishop to, 'come give me a ride; I've killed Dave.'" Later that day, according to Baldwin, Bishop drove past the church where Demery said he left Harmon's body in Harmon's truck. When Bishop saw the vehicle, he told his parents what Demery had said and they advised him to go to the police. Bishop reported the incident to the Johnson City Police Department.
   Police arrived at Clifton View Baptist Church on Orleans Street in Johnson City and discovered Harmon's truck with his body inside, Baldwin said.
   Baldwin said that, after Demery left the truck and the body in the parking lot, he went to Grimes' residence and then fled to a neighbor's residence where he was arrested a short time later by law enforcement officers.
   During his opening statements, Baldwin revealed forensic pathologist Dr. Gretyl Stephens' findings from an autopsy performed on Harmon. According to Baldwin, Harmon had been shot a total of 16 times - 15 times with a .22-caliber rifle and one time with a .25-caliber handgun. "That shot (the shot from the .25 caliber handgun) was right between the eyes. It was a close wound, within two feet, somewhere between two feet and four inches," Baldwin said. "She (Stephens) will tell you that the bullet path through the brain has hemorrhaging which shows that he was still alive when he was shot the 16th time."
   During his opening remarks, Assistant District Public Defender Robert Oaks, who is serving as defense attorney for Demery, told the jury that the proof in the case would show that Demery acted in self defense.
   "Proof will show that the front door of the residence was busted in and knocked off its hinges," Oaks said, adding that the evidence would also show that "an explosive fight" had occurred in the residence and that glass and furniture had been broken. "You will hear from witnesses who will say Mr. Demery told them, 'I was jumped inside my house and I shot Dave.'"
   Oaks called the jury's attention to the fact that the two firearms recovered from Demery's residence shortly after the death of Harmon - a .22-caliber rifle and .25-caliber handgun - had only been sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab this month. "The guns laid there for two years before it was ever sent off to be tested," he said.
   In response to Baldwin's remarks about the theft of money from Demery's residence and the statement that Demery told his wife that he was going to confront the individual who had stolen it, Oaks said that it was not Harmon whom Demery suspected of stealing the money.
   Following the opening statements of both attorneys, witnesses in the case provided testimony.
   Beth Demery testified that, shortly before March 14, she received her income tax return, and her husband demanded that she give a portion of it to him. "I was told that if I didn't give half of it to him I would be hurt," she said, adding that at that time she gave him approximately $700. "(About three days before the incident) He said that $250 had gotten gone and he thought a certain someone had took it and he was going to get it back."
   When Baldwin asked Beth Demery what her response to the statement was, she said that on March 13, 2002, she tried to talk him out of confronting the individual. "I asked him to let the money go, it wasn't worth it, to leave with me," she said.
   She said she then left the residence she shared with Timothy Demery and their child and went to stay with Grimes for the night as her husband had requested. She also said that she didn't speak to him again until later on the next day when he came to Grimes' residence. When he arrived, she asked him what had happened with the confrontation. "He told me that he had confronted the man and everything was worked out pretty much," she said.
   Patsy Harmon, the widow of David Harmon, also testified and told the jury that, on the night of March 13, her husband received a message on his pager and left the residence. "He said, 'I'll be back soon and I love you,'" she said. That was the last time she spoke with her husband.
   Gigi Berry, a friend of Timothy Demery, testified that on the morning of March 14, Demery came to her residence, approximately three to four blocks away from the church where Harmon's body was later found, and asked her for a shirt. Berry said that, when Demery arrived at her residence, he appeared to be out of breath and was covered in sweat and carrying his shirt in his hand. "He put the shirt I gave him on and took his pants off and threw them and his other shirt in the trash," said Berry, adding that Demery had been wearing "basketball shorts" underneath his pants.
   Berry also said that Demery asked her to give him a ride somewhere, but she told him she wasn't able to and called him a cab.
   Terri Arney, a TBI special agent forensic scientist who specializes in firearms examinations also testified on Monday. According to Arney, forensic exams on the two firearms recovered from Demery's residence as well as bullets recovered from Harmon's body were conducted.
   She said that a positive identification could be made that the .25-caliber bullet recovered from Harmon's body had been fired by the .25-caliber handgun found at Demery's residence. However, she said, tests conducted on the .22-caliber bullets recovered from Harmon's body could not be positively matched to the .22-caliber rifle recovered from the Demery residence. She said she could determine though that they had been fired from the same class of weapon.
   Testimony is scheduled to continue today in the trial which is estimated to last two days.