WARSAW — “Who was it?” asks Syracuse Police Officer Joe Denton, getting no answer to the question he asks. “Who was in the house?” Tara Thornburg clearly states, “Brandon Woody.” You hear Denton calling Woody’s name and her stating, “they’re not here.”
These comments are heard in a video from the body cam worn by Denton, the first officer on the scene at 205 E. Main St., Syracuse, responding to a call of a shooting in February of 2015. The video, at a distance, showed Thornburg laying on the living room floor, then getting up to use the bathroom.
This was the last piece of evidence submitted by the state Wednesday, Oct. 5, in the trial of Brandon Thomas Woody and Kyle David DeHart for the murders of Thornburg and Josh Knisley. Only a small portion of the body cam recording was allowed to be shown to the jury and the audience.
Following brief cross examination by Larry Hansen, Woody’s counsel, and Joe Sobek, co-counsel for DeHart, the state rested its case and the trial recessed for the day.
Sobek questioned the number of cases Denton has handled involving traumatic head injuries and challenges associated with such injury. He also asked the approximate amount of blood Thornburg had lost. Denton stated her reactions seen in the video were common. He also stated he was not a doctor and could not indicate the amount of blood loss.
Hansen asked if Thornburg identified any one else, which she did not.
Other testimony for the afternoon included those of Breanna Schneider, Jacob Larkin, Indiana State Trooper Neil Hodges and Ashlyn Shepard.
Schneider testified to the arrival of Woody at the apartment she shared with her fiancé, a male friend of her fiancé and Thomas Hursey. She stated Woody appeared at the residence, in a T-shirt and jeans, sometime between 5-5:30 a.m. Feb. 19. Thinking it was Hursey, because of the use of a coded knock, she opened to door to find Woody. He immediately asked if he could stay. She testified she repeatedly told him to leave before he finally left. She did not see what direction he went.
Larkin, who became emotional when testifying about his friendship with Thornburg, primarily testified about events on Feb. 18 and getting his cell phone back from Joan DeHart on Feb. 23. He testified of getting a weird feeling while in the vehicle alone with Woody and Hursey during the late evening hours of Feb. 18, as they prepared to take him home. “It was long enough I began to think what is going on?” Larkin testified. He later testified when DeHart entered the vehicle, everything was normal.
The defense focused on Larkin’s purchase of “medicinal” marijuana from Thornburg on Feb. 18 and previous purchases and the various distances between a number of locations.
Hodges’ testimony dealt with the arrest of Woody at a gas station at Day and Fir roads in Mishawaka. Only three minutes of the gas station surveillance camera was allowed to be shown. This portion showed police walking up to a vehicle Woody was believed to have been in. The vehicle was covered with snow. Woody’s arrest was not shown.
Shepard, who has a child with DeHart, was extremely emotional during her testimony. She testified meeting with DeHart twice on Feb. 18 and then again around noon, Feb. 19. She also testified why she initially told police DeHart was with her on the evening of the 18th, as that is what she had told her grandmother, when she left to be with friends.
Shepard was questioned if she had seen the black tennis shoes entered into evidence. She testified she had seen similar shoes at the DeHart residence and was pretty sure the shoes belonged to his father, Scott DeHart. Under cross examination she testified she had never seen Kyle DeHart wearing the shoes.
Counsels for the two defendants began their defense presentations at 8:15 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.