CANTON, Ohio (AP) -- A former police officer accused of strangling a woman pregnant with his child knew where her body was but had nothing to do with her death, a defense lawyer told jurors at the man's murder trial Monday.
The lawyer said prosecutors did not have evidence that Bobby Cutts Jr. killed Jessie Marie Davis and hoped only to enrage jurors enough to convict him of murder. "They hope that you'll lose your way," Fernando Mack said.
He did not explain how Cutts knew the whereabouts of Davis' body.
Prosecutors said Cutts strangled Davis, dumped her body and lied to police as thousands searched for her last summer in a case that drew national attention. Their 2 1/2-year-old son, Blake, gave investigators some of the first clues after his 26-year-old mother disappeared, saying: "Mommy's in the rug."
"He rolled Jessie up in the comforter from her bed and put her in the back of his truck," said prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett, adding that Davis' feet hung out of the comforter.
Cutts, 30, a former Canton patrolman, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and other charges in the death of Davis and her female fetus. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Davis was reported missing June 15 by her mother, who found Blake alone, wearing a dirty diaper, and Davis' bedroom in disarray. Her body was found in a park June 23 about 20 miles away from her home near North Canton, some 45 miles south of Cleveland.
The jury heard two audio recordings in which Cutts denied any knowledge of what happened to Davis, who was due to deliver their second child about two weeks after her death, prosecutors said. Cutts, who was married, told police that he didn't know whether the child was his because she also was seeing someone else.
Hartnett said Cutts was feeling the pressure of his crumbling marriage, financial debt and supporting several children.
Cutts told police that he'd last spoken to Davis on June 13 and that he called her the next day when she didn't bring Blake over for him to watch. In one of the phone calls, he left an angry message, saying, "You could at least call," Hartnett said. At the time, Blake was home alone.
Jessie Davis' mother, Patricia Porter, testified that when she found Blake, he told her: "Mommy's crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in the rug." Blake later told police: "Daddy's mad."
After the slaying, prosecutors say, Cutts headed to the home of a high school classmate and told her that he used his arm to strangle Davis, Hartnett said. He told her to say that he had arranged for her to baby-sit for Blake _ part of his plan to cover up his involvement in the crime, Hartnett said.
Prosecutors say the classmate later told police of the admission. Cutts led police to Davis' body, Hartnett said.
Mack said jurors wouldn't like that Cutts knew where her body was and left Blake alone for 26 hours, referring to charges of gross abuse of a corpse and child endangering. He pointed out that a medical examiner was unable to determine how Davis was killed, listing the cause as "unspecified homicidal violence."
"They don't have a cause of death; rather, they have hypotheticals," he said.
The trial is expected to resume Tuesday and last at least two weeks.
Posted by LS