Demery trial continues

Testimony goes into second day as state presents its case

By Abby Morris
Star Staff
amorris@starhq.com

   Testimony continued on Tuesday in the trial of a Carter County man charged with first degree murder in the March 2002 death of a Unicoi County man.
   The state continued presentation of evidence against 27-year-old Timothy Demery, who is charged in the shooting death of 37-year-old David Harmon.
   The trial was originally expected to take two days to present all of the evidence to the jury, but the trial will enter its third day this morning.
   In court on Tuesday, jurors heard from a variety of witnesses, including law enforcement officers who worked on the case, the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Harmon, and relatives of Demery who testified that he had asked them to give false statements to investigators and not to testify against him.
   Despite new evidence and testimony, the most dramatic event that occurred during Tuesday's session did not happen in front of the jury or even in open court.
   Jim Harmon, father of David Harmon, told the Elizabethton Star on Tuesday afternoon that earlier that day, Demery had spoken with him and had apologized for Harmon's death. "That boy (Demery) that killed him talked to me awhile ago and he said he was sorry. I told him that I forgive him and I know that if he asked the Lord, he'd forgive him too and he started crying," Jim Harmon said. "It was hard to do, but I had to forgive him. I'm a minister. If you hold one thing against your brother it comes between you and God."
   One individual who offered testimony was Diane Bishop, who is an aunt of Demery. She explained the relationship between her son, Harold Bishop, II, and her nephew. "My son and Mr. Demery were very close," she said. "This has been hard on my whole family."
   Bishop said that after Demery was arrested he made a collect call to her from the jail and wanted to speak to her son. "He wanted me to remind him when he came to court to say that the gun was loaded because of a dog attack. He wanted him to tell the court that the gun was kept loaded," Bishop said, adding that her son had told her he never kept the gun loaded. "He said his life was in the hands of his family."
   Bishop also gave the court letters which Demery had mailed to her son and that her son then handed over to her.
   Robert Oaks, the attorney representing Demery, objected to the introduction of letters as evidence. The jury was removed from the courtroom while Assistant District Attorney Ken Baldwin and Oaks discussed the letters with Judge Robert Cupp and agreed that portions of the letters which referred to prior criminal acts committed by the defendant, including a reference to drugs, be omitted. It was also decided that statements Demery had written in the letter about what his attorney had advised him be omitted. Cupp also ruled that portions of the letter detailing how much time Demery could serve if he were to be convicted of the charge against him also be removed so as not to influence the jury.
   While the men discussed the letters without the jury's presence, Baldwin read a portion of them aloud to Cupp where Demery asked his cousin, Harold Bishop II, and his uncle, Harold Bishop I, to leave the area and go to Virginia for a month to avoid testifying against him in the case. Demery said in the letters that they would only get two days in jail if they failed to show up for court. "Two days ain't shit man compared to 56 years," Demery said.
   After Cupp ruled that the letters were admissible as evidence once the portions he specified were removed, the jury returned and Diane Bishop's testimony continued.
   During her testimony, Baldwin asked that she read the letters to the jury. "You know I loved you like a damn brother, man. No shit. I would have done anything for you and I mean any damn thing," Diane Bishop read. "Now they are thinking of killing my ass all because you won't say the gun was loaded. I can't believe you did me like that."
   Law enforcement officers told the jury about evidence collected at Demery's residence, including the discovery of the two firearms believe to have been used in the incident - a .22-caliber rifle and a .25-caliber handgun- as well as bullets, spent shell casings, blood evidence and a door from inside the trailer located at 1990 King Springs Rd. which Demery had shared with his wife Beth Demery and his cousin Harold Bishop II.
   Investigators removed the door to one of the trailer's bathrooms because there was writing in chalk which contained the statement, "Dave tried to kill me," as well as other statements.
   Dr. Gretel Stephens, a forensic pathologist at the Quillen College of Medicine, told the jury about the results of the autopsy conducted on Harmon. "The cause of death was a close gunshot wound to the head," she said.
   According to Stephens, Harmon had been shot a total of 16 times. Police contend that he was shot 15 times with the .22-caliber rifle and once with the .25-caliber handgun which were recovered from Demery's residence.
   Stephens testified that all of the bullet paths through Harmon's body showed, "vital activity" which meant that Harmon's heart was still pumping blood and he was alive at the time he was shot the 16th time.
   In her testimony, Stephen stated that she recovered a total of 11 bullets from Harmon's body at the time of his autopsy. "It appeared that 10 of them were of the same caliber, a .22-caliber, and a separate one, the one from the head, was a .25-caliber," she said.
   Stephens also testified that according to the many different points of entry that the bullets made to Harmon's body as well as the different angles the bullets came from and the different paths they took inside the body, it was apparent that Harmon was moving around while he was being shot. "It was very likely that he was moving, dodging and trying to get away," she said.
   Four of the bullets also penetrated Harmon's lungs, according to Stephens, and a fifth bullet pierced his liver and gall bladder. Those wounds could have ultimately proved fatal if Harmon had not been shot in the head, according to Stephens. "Given enough time the ones that went through the lung could have been lethal without proper medical care or the one that pierced the liver and gall bladder could have led to enough bleeding that it could have been lethal without appropriate medical care," she said.
   Stephens said she felt confident that the bullet which struck Harmon in the forehead between his eyebrows was the fatal shot. According to the forensic pathologist, the bullet penetrated Harmon's skull and traveled through his sinuses before destroying "the entire right side of his cerebrum." Due to the brain damage caused by the bullet, Stephens said, "the shot would have been quickly fatal" but Harmon was alive at the time he was struck with that bullet. Harmon was also shot a total of five times in the back.
   The trial is expected to continue today in Carter County Criminal Court.