The April 22 shooting death of Anna Holmes was tragic and senseless, a prosecutor said Wednesday morning in the first day of trial for the man accused of killing her.
"And there is no question that you will find this is a capital case," Ernie Jones, deputy Salt Lake County attorney, told the 14-member jury during his opening statement. "After all the testimony and evidence has been presented, you will conclude that there was no reason for (Charles Kenneth McCovey) to kill Mrs. Holmes."Jones and co-counsel Thomas Vuyk plan to seek the death penalty for McCovey, 44, also known as Charles Kenneth Hodges, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Holmes, 31, a pregnant West Valley mother who was shot during the robbery of Video Voyager, 5448 S. 4220 West.
Prosecutors allege that because the slaying was committed during a robbery, it is a capital homicide.
Attorneys for McCovey will not dispute the fact that McCovey was the one who robbed the store and shot Holmes. But public defender Lisa Remal told the jury that the shooting was not intentional but was an accident.
Defense attorneys will try to persuade the jury to find their client guilty of second-degree murder rather than capital homicide.
Jones recited for the jurors the circumstances that led up to Holmes' death.
The mother of three girls was hosting a slumber party for her daughters and three neighbor girls while her husband was at a Boy Scout camp for the weekend.
"She loaded all six of the little kids into the car and drove to Video Voyager." One of the other people inside the video store was McCovey, who walked around, looked at some tapes and talked with the clerk and a customer.
"Suddenly, he pulled a .38-caliber pistol, grabbed a (male customer) by the throat and pushed him to the front of the store." He grabbed Holmes, placed the gun barrel at the base of her skull and demanded money from the cash register.
McCovey was apparently displeased by the amount he received.
"Mrs. Holmes and all of the hostages inside the store stood absolutely still," Jones said. "No one wanted to provoke or agitate this man."
McCovey took a small step to his left, with the barrel still pointed at Holmes.
"The defendant, without any warning, pulled the trigger," Jones said. The bullet splintered but the major piece went all the way to the top of Holmes' skull, where it bounced around like a BB on a hardwood floor. Anna Holmes slumped to the floor.
"The children and people inside the store looked on in almost disbelief. The horror was too hard to comprehend."
Jones then explained how a massive manhunt by police led to several anonymous tips. One led officers to a house, where they found a .38-caliber pistol stuffed in an empty cereal box behind the kitchen stove.
A photo of McCovey was shown to witnesses who identified him as the one who had robbed the video store and shot Holmes, Jones said.
Holmes died hours later at a local hospital shortly after doctors delivered her baby girl, who was about two months premature.