After calling their 18th witness Thursday, prosecutors rested their first-degree murder case against a man accused of shooting a West Valley woman during a video store robbery last April in Kearns.
Defense attorneys - who are trying to show the jury that the shooting was an accident - began presenting evidence Friday.The accused, Charles Kenneth McCovey, 44, will take the witness stand to explain how he went into the Video Voyager the night of April 22, 1988, to rob it, not to kill someone.
McCovey, also known as Charles Kenneth Hodges, does not dispute that he held the handgun that killed Anna Holmes, 31. But he maintains it was an accident.
Holmes, 31, eight months pregnant, had taken her daughters and their friends to the store to rent videos for a slumber party. Shortly before she died, doctors delivered her baby by Caesarean section.
Prosecutors claim the shooting was intentional and that it is a capital offense because it was committed during an armed robbery.
On Thursday, Rebecca Peterson, McCovey's former girlfriend, testified that he was distraught and in shock following the shooting. He didn't speak for about two hours, she said.
"He told me that it didn't happen the way they said it happened; it was an accident," she testified.
She said she took him to a motel the next day, where he sat in a chair most of the day and just stared.
Peterson said McCovey told her he put the gun to Holmes' head because a customer in the store was not cooperating.
That testimony is consistent with that of Salt Lake County sheriff's Sgt. Garth Beckstead, who interviewed McCovey three days after the homicide.
Beckstead testified that McCovey told him that he had drank a fifth of Vodka and had been shooting "speed," or amphetamines, the day of the incident.
McCovey then went into the store with his gun to get cash for his drug habit. He pulled his gun from his waistband and began herding customers to the front of the store. One of the customers, a man, was not being cooperative.
"He said he was trying to prod the (man) along, at which time the gun went off," Beckstead said.
McCovey told Beckstead, "I'm not saying I didn't pull the trigger . . . The gun went off and I shot her."
Under cross examination by public defender Andrew Valdez, Beckstead said McCovey cried at times during the interview and said he never intended to kill anyone.
In fact, at one point, Valdez pointed out, the sergeant said during the interview, "Chuck, it appears to me that you didn't mean to kill her, did you?"
In other testimony, an FBI firearms expert testified that the bullet removed from the Holmes' head was fired from the gun that was recovered in the home of McCovey's girlfriend.
The expert and a local gunsmith also testified that the alleged murder weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, was in good-working condition with all of its built-in safety mechanisms operational.
Cal Kincaid, a resident in the area of the video store, testified he saw McCovey come running around the corner and down the street and then get into a car driven by another person.
The video store's owner, Pamela Stevenson, testified that $334 cash was stolen in the robbery. Police have never recovered the money.
Edwin S. Sweeney, former state medical examiner, testified that Holmes was shot by a gun held about two inches from her head and at such a sharp angle that the bullet splintered.
Part of the bullet pierced Holmes' brain. The other part exited the skull not far from the entry wound.
Under cross examination, Sweeney said it is possible that the slightest movement of the gunman's hand could have resulted in a miss.