PRINCETON — Testimony continued Wednesday in the jury trial for Jacob Wilson, as a Weatherby 22 rifle, discussed throughout the first day of testimony, was presented as evidence by the prosecution.
Wilson is charged with murder in connection with the March 2018 death of Samuel Bethe, whose body wound inside his burning Buckskin mobile home.
Ted Clamme, Indiana State Police crime scene investigator, testified he arrived at the scene to begin his investigation March 16, 2018 and was told about the gun that had already been removed from the trailer. It was given to him by Gibson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Bruce Vanoven.
During cross examination, Clamme testified he could not say for certain whether Vanoven was wearing gloves at that time, but felt he would have noted if he had not been. Clamme testified he was wearing gloves. The use of gloves at the scene while handling evidence has been a continued point in the first two days of trial testimony.
Clamme said he placed the gun in an evidence box, and sealed it with a zip tie.
Gibson County Prosecutor Mike Cochren asked Clamme to remove the rifle from the evidence box to show the jury.
Clamme put on gloves, explaining that though it had already been tested, the gloves would help prevent risk of contamination of the weapon. He also sanitized the scissors he used to cut the seal and zip ties.
Clamme showed the jury the rifle, pointing out some charring near the butt of the gun. Also entered into evidence were the magazine clip from the rifle, three cartridges from the magazine and one cartridge from the chamber.
Questioned by Cochren, Clamme testified there were bullets on the counter inside the trailer that were not collected. “At the time, I didn’t see a need for it,” he said.
There were also two shell casings at the scene, and while both were photographed, only the one of the front stoop was collected. The other was located inside the trailer.
While answering questions from the prosecutor, Clamme said he did not remember the second casing.
The prosecution also entered into evidence photos taken by Clamme during the investigation of a broken vehicle window, and a headrest with what he testified appeared to be a bullet hole.
The vehicle belonged to Danny Siekman, a Buckskin resident.
Later in the afternoon, Siekman testified that Wilson stepped into the doorway of Bethe’s trailer and shot at him with the rifle as Siekman was driving by the trailer and honking.
Clamme also testified to the state of the crime scene, both a fire and murder scene, and said by the time he arrived, fire personnel had been working to put out the flames.
He said that already contaminates the scene, as does the heat, fire, and water.
“It was just a messy crime scene,” he said.
Cochren asked how a pristine scene may have changed things.
Clamme said a lot of the process would have been the same, but without the extra elements it could be more likely to get results in areas such as fingerprints and DNA.
During cross-examination, defense attorney Jason Spindler asked Clamme why he would not collect the additional casing, as well as the bullets on the counter.
Clamme said in the case of the bullets, since they were not fired, they would not have offered any information for testing. The casing was a little harder for him to explain, he said.
He testified it could have been oversight on his part, or the fact the casing was in the kitchen and he may have thought it was knocked off the counter from another time.
Mitzi Templeton, a forensic and firearm specialist with the Indiana State Police, testified Tuesday afternoon and was also recalled for additional questions Wednesday morning.
Templeton originally testified to her examination of the Weatherby 22 rifle, the collected casing and the fragments removed from Bethe’s brain during autopsy.
During testimony, Templeton reported there were no fingerprints found on the rifle.
March 15-16, 2018:
Dan Boger, now of Spencer County, testified Wednesday that he had been hanging out at Bethe’s trailer March 15, 2018, along with Wilson and Ashley Robling. He testified everyone there that night had done meth.
Cochren asked Boger if he could identify anyone in the courtroom as Wilson, and he could not. A picture of Wilson was shown to Boger, and he identified it as the man at the trailer that evening.
Boger said he knew Bethe and Robling, but did not know Wilson. He was at Bethe’s trailer because he was doing some water line work for him.
Boger said while there, he saw Wilson handle the rifle, and said he handled it once, as well.
“He kept it fairly close to him,” Boger said.
Boger testified he spent the night on Bethe’s couch March 15 and the next day was picked up by Lavon Powell and taken to her home down the street, before returning to Bethe’s later in the day to do a bit more work.
Lavon Powell testified to picking up Boger because she was told her home had been broken into. She said since he was staying at her place at the time, she was not sure what items of his may have been in her home.
Powell said she could not say for certain Boger had not left her home to go back to Bethe’s but she did not think he had. She testified he was at her home when it was brought to their attention smoke was coming from Bethe’s trailer.
Boger testified that when he returned to Bethe’s from Powell’s, he was there for maybe an hour before telling Bethe he would come back to do work after Wilson and Robling had left, because he did not want to be around them.
Boger said he walked back to Powell’s at that time and maybe 20 minutes later he became aware of the fire at Bethe’s.
During cross examination, Boger testified he did not hear anything, like a gunshot, on his walk back to Powell’s.
The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Gibson County Circuit Court.