Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

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Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:13 pm

Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

The trial of Nicholas McGuffin, charged with the 2000 murder of 15 year old Leah Freeman begins tomorrow almost eleven years to the day after her death. It has been a long and circuitous journey from the night she was first reported missing to the Coquille Police Department, which passed her disappearance off as a runaway, to the discovery of her body weeks later off a remote stretch of logging road and finally to trial this week. From the beginning, the odds of this murder ever reaching trial were heavily stacked against it by an incompetent, insecure and abusive former police chief, Mike Reaves, and a fossilized city council that defended him instead of protecting its constituents.

Reaves ran the police department not as a law enforcement and public safety agency but as a revenue collection service. The city of 4,300 working class people would see six hundred officer initiated reports and citations per month on petty infractions like seat belts or helmet violations. Officers of the Coquille PD were regarded more as an organized gang of street thugs shaking down their fellow citizens than as protectors. Real crimes went unsolved and because the public distrusted the department so much were frequently unreported. Reaves’ quick dismissal of the missing person report filed by Freeman’s mother, Cory Courtright, entering into the long 4th of July weekend was totally in keeping with the disdain and contempt he showed to most residents.

From the beginning, and even after the discovery of the body, Reaves was reluctant to allow experienced outside help in to investigate and eventually the case went cold. Reaves’ orchestrated reign of terror upon everyday Coquille citizens, however, continued unabated. In January of 2008, Officer James Bryant, frequently accused of brutality, along with another officer was involved in an arrest that left Carl Foster, 5’4″ tall and 115 pounds a quadriplegic. Paul Frasier, the same district attorney trying McGuffin, held a grand jury investigation that inconceivably found Bryant innocent of using excessive force. Always, the Coquille city manager, Terrence O’Connor and the city council stood against their constituents and behind Reaves’ including his decision to keep Bryant on the force. (Bryant was later canned by Dannels over an unrelated incident).

Courtright continued her efforts to keep the case in the public eye. She wrote letters held vigils and spoke out at the city council requesting again and again to allow outside investigators to assist with the case. Reaves maintained the obviously dead investigation was ongoing and in some sort of jurisdictional pissing match adamantly refused any outside help.

In 2007 a gathering instigated by a local CPD victim, Clifford Latta, helped organized the community to rise up against the tyrannical behavior of the CPD and the indifference exhibited by the city council. A series of protests were organized by another relative of Freeman, Dian Courtright, demanding higher standards of law enforcement. Reaves called these citizens malcontents and through his lawyer, the ‘hairy unwashed’. The protests continued and combined with repeated impassioned pleas from Cory Courtright led to the appointment in the summer of 2008 of a new police chief, Mark Dannels.

Dannels reopened the Freeman case, invited expertise from other local law enforcement and built a strong multi-agency team to work on solving the murder. The team interviewed more than a hundred witnesses and eventually pieced together enough evidence to satisfy the grand jury and charge Freeman’s boyfriend, Nick McGuffin, with her murder. In short, the community had to rise up and get rid of one police chief and demand excellence of a replacement before any hope of closure for Freeman’s family would ever be possible.

Dannels also rebuilt the reputation of the Coquille PD and brought a new attention to solving crimes and less focus on revenue generation. Citizens were no longer afraid to report crimes to the police department leading some people to remark that crime had risen since Dannels appointment. Convictions for real crimes also rose. Today, citizens are proud rather than fearful of the Coquille Police Department.

Whether the district attorney can prove McGuffin guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or not, this trial is a triumph of a mother’s will to see justice for her daughter despite impossible odds. For the citizens who rose up to bring badly needed changes to their city it is proof that working together, even against the inertia of an aging and disdainful city council and an unfeeling city manager, can make a difference.


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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:32 pm

Jury selection began today. Opening arguments will begin as soon as jury selection is complete, which could be Wednesday afternoon by some estimates. We can only hope the jury selected for this trial has some functioning brain cells.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Wed Jul 06, 2011 4:29 pm

Security is up for high-profile case
Jury picks enter day 2 in McGuffin trial
Posted: Wednesday, July 6, 2011 11:00 am


Potential jurors were easy to spot Tuesday as they wandered in and out of the courthouse with their bright red oval 'Juror" tags.

The tags are hauled out for high-profile cases, in this case Nick McGuffin's murder trial.

Jurors are not allowed to talk about the case, and the pins make it easy for the public, county employees, and press to spot them and stay quiet.

Jury selection for McGuffin's trial for the murder of Leah Freeman is expected to continue at least through this afternoon.

Opening statements could commence as early as 1 p.m.

A metal detector guards the door of Coos County Circuit Court Judge Richard Barron's room where McGuffin's fate will be decided.

This is also standard procedure for high-profile cases, a courthouse spokeswoman said.

Anyone entering the courtroom must pass through the metal detector and put all baggage through a X-ray screener.

The extra security measures are to spot things that are banned in the courthouse to start with, such as knives, guns and other weapons.

McGuffin's trial is scheduled to run for the next three weeks.

Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 240, or at jhiggins@theworldlink.com.

Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_14e51218-46ce-5fe6-988e-2007e37ddd6a.html#ixzz1RMKEsIwr

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:00 pm

The jury has been selected and they are taking a bus tour of relevant locations in the case this afternoon. Opening arguments are set for tomorrow morning.
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Trial

Post by Justice4all on Wed Jul 06, 2011 9:56 pm

Jury set for trial of man accused of killing high school girlfriend

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:04 pm

Man warned not to take pictures of potential jurors


COQUILLE, Ore. -- Jury selection may have taken just a little longer than anticipated for the trial of the man accused of killing Leah Freeman, but it was an incident outside the courthouse that created a bigger stir Wednesday.

The trial of Nick McGuffin will now officially proceed on Thursday, as a jury was finalized at about 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier says the process took a little longer than with your average case, because of all of the pre-trial publicity that this long unsolved case had generated.

"We wanted to make sure we did things right." However, Frasier added, taking a day or a day-and-a-half, under the circumstances, is not a big deal.

What was a big deal was a man spotted outside the courthouse taking pictures of potential jurors during a break. Readily identifiable by the big "juror" button on their shirts and jackets.

"There was an individual that decided that he wanted to photograph the jurors, which is strictly prohibited." Frasier said law enforcement approached the man and told him to stop taking pictures, but he reacted angrily.

"You cannot photograph jurors. Period. And he's been told that. I don't know if he got the message: don't do it," Frasier said. "Because he will get prosecuted if he does."

The 12 jurors and two alternates, who will not be sequestered, were led on a tour of pertinent sites later in the afternoon on Wednesday.

They will be back in court for opening arguments on July 7, 2011, starting at about 9 a.m.

http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125116949.html





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Judge forbids juror photos after sidewalk incident
Jury selected in McGuffin trial


Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 11:00 am



COQUILLE -- The judge in the Nick McGuffin murder trial has ordered sheriff's deputies to block photography of jurors.

The order came after a Myrtle Point man took pictures of potential jurors Wednesday outside the courthouse. In a video he later posted to YouTube, deputies confronted Phil Logan-Kelly on a sidewalk outside the courthouse, where he was taking pictures of potential jurors as they left for lunch.

Before deputies escorted Logan-Kelly off courthouse property, one deputy asked him, 'Why are you taking pictures of the jurors?"

'Because I can," Logan-Kelly replied. 'I'm in public, they are in public, I can take pictures."

Actually, he can't.

Coos County Circuit Court Judge Richard Barron has ordered that no juror be photographed anywhere while the trial is under way.

The rule isn't new. The Oregon Uniform Trial Court Rules -- the rules judges follow while conducting trials in Oregon -- states there shall be no 'public access coverage" of 'any juror anywhere during the course of the trial in which he or she sits."

Public access coverage includes any photo or video inside or outside the courtroom. These rules apply equally to news media and private citizens.

'Today I was exercising my First Amendment right in front of the courthouse in Coquille," Logan-Kelly wrote in an email to The World.

'A wile (sic) later, a deputy came to my door telling me that Judge Barron has ordered me to stop taking pictures in front of the courthouse. Thus, he is violating my First Amendment Rights."

In the video, Logan-Kelly refused to give deputies his name or show them ID.

Once he affirmed the deputies were not detaining him, Logan-Kelly walked to his car. The deputies followed him.

'You positively cannot take photos of the jurors, period," Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier told reporters later that day. 'You will get prosecuted."

According to Logan-Kelly's YouTube account, he is a 70-year-old retiree and part-time school bus driver.

A few hours later, around 3 p.m., the selected jury was taken on a bus tour of Coquille to the locations Frasier will discuss during the trial.

Jury selection, also called voir dire, took almost two days, which Frasier said is normal for a high-profile murder trial.

The court had more than 100 jurors standing by to ensure a unbiased jury could be selected. Barron and the lawyers screened more than 70 potential jurors before seating 12 jurors and two alternates.

Opening statements began at 9 this morning.

Reporter Jessie Higgins can be reached at 541-269-1222 ext. 240 or jhiggins@theworldlink.com.

Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_77643f30-d1f5-57f1-baa3-a1ed1eba6f8e.html#ixzz1RRaRrabh


Last edited by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:10 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:05 pm

A murder trial is not a sideshow
Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 11:00 am

The Internet and digital camcorders let any citizen be an investigative journalist, an entertainer or a documentary videographer. They also, sadly, empower limitless amounts of homemade pornography, dancing cats and self-righteous stupidity.

We who earn our daily bread through the graces of the First Amendment know free expression must be tempered by good judgment and good manners. So we have little sympathy for people who cite freedom as an excuse for behaving like jerks.

Sheriff's deputies asked a man on Wednesday why he was photographing jurors outside the Coos County Courthouse. 'Because I can," he said.

Turns out he can't. And even if he could, it wouldn't be a good enough reason to monkey with a murder case.

Murder trials are serious business. Courts aim to deliver justice for victims, who cannot speak for themselves, and also for defendants, who stand to lose liberty or even life.

America's heritage of freedom guarantees this delicate balancing act will take place in public. To keep the system honest, citizens are allowed to watch, including news reporters and (recently) even video cameras. The conduct of justice is everybody's business.

At the same time, respect must be paid. Jurors have a difficult and even frightening job. On their say-so, someone accused of murder will go free or go to prison. For the system to work, it must protect these ordinary people from intimidation and harassment.

Photographing jurors on the sidewalk doesn't serve anyone's understanding of the criminal justice system. It doesn't protect freedom or make the system more accountable. It's nothing but mischief -- the kind of mischief that can subvert justice.

The judge in the Nick McGuffin trial was right to clamp down on Wednesday's amateur photographer. Even if such juvenile behavior were legal, it would still be irresponsible.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/opinion/editorial/article_049ed44d-bec8-5139-a1dc-1b33619682bf.html#ixzz1RRalvDmO

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 07, 2011 2:16 pm

After 11 years, Coquille murder case goes to trial
By Winston Ross
The Register-Guard


COQUILLE — After a decade of anguish, Cory Courtright will get the chance today to do something that no mother could ever imagine looking forward to: testifying in the murder trial of the man accused of killing her 15-year-old daughter.

But Courtright has awaited this day for a long time, haranguing authorities to stay on the case, appealing to the media to keep her daughter’s story in the spotlight, posting investigative materials on a website in order to point the finger squarely at the girl’s then-boyfriend, Nicholas James McGuffin.

Now, after two days of jury selection that ended with the 12 people who will decide McGuffin’s fate piling into a school bus and touring the 11-year-old crime scenes, Courtright will finally get the chance to help put away the man she believes killed her daughter, Leah Freeman. But that decision is largely out of her hands.

Prosecutors admit they have zero physical evidence in the case against McGuffin, which may help explain why they called an unprecedented 114 witnesses in the grand jury proceedings last year to win an indictment against the man.

Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier said he intends to call 65 witnesses over the estimated four days he believes he’ll need to present his case — perhaps the largest group he’s ever subpoenaed, he said.

But that doesn’t foretell a weak case, Frasier insists. The reason for the staggering number of witnesses is because there are people who have bits and pieces of the evidence the prosecutor wants the jury to hear, and he says he needs them all to tell a complete story.

“It’s just that there are a lot of people who have a little piece of the puzzle,” Frasier said Wednesday. “It’s a matter of putting it all together.”

One witness Frasier won’t be calling is the city’s former police chief. The DA canceled the subpoena of Mark Dannels, with whom he teamed up shortly before the Arizona transplant first arrived in Coquille to bring a new energy and focus to the cold case. But Dannels left the department in May and would now need to be flown back from Arizona to testify. The budget-wary DA says he was only planning to use Dannels for a single conversation he had with McGuffin back in 2009, and another officer was there at the time who’s still in town.

“I’ve got seven people charged with murder in the county jail right now,” Frasier said. “I don’t have unlimited funds to try these cases.”

The former chief is clearly frustrated he won’t be a part of the case he helped break open.

“The city stepped up and said ‘We’ll pay his way back, he’s the face of the case,’ but Frasier said no,” Dannels said. “Lets just hope they get a conviction.”

McGuffin and his attorneys might expect to have a high level of confidence in avoiding a conviction, given the state’s nonexistent physical evidence and reliance on dozens of pieced-together witness statements.

Instead, what worries Bob McCrea, a Eugene attorney who is representing McGuffin along with his daughter, lead counsel Shaun McCrea, is how much media attention his client has received, including a national report on ABC’s “20/20” that aired last year.

A recent survey of Coos County area residents indicates most are quite familiar with the case, and many already have made up their minds about McGuffin’s guilt or innocence, Bob McCrea told The Register-Guard last week. But because many respondents also said they felt they could remain impartial about the case, McCrea said, he didn’t feel he had sufficient cause to ask Judge Richard Barrons for a change of venue.

Frasier had said earlier that he expected such a motion, but that he hadn’t seen one granted in Coos County in 20-plus years on the job. On Wednesday, upon the completion of jury selection, Frasier said he was surprised at how many of the approximately 70 prospective jurors interviewed said they’d never heard of Leah Freeman, much less made up their minds about who murdered her.

Though 46 people were excused for one reason or another — including a Coquille garbageman who warned that people’s trash would not be collected were he to take two weeks off — the vast majority had never heard about the case, Frasier said.

“I thought there’d be more of an issue there, but only three or four of them expressed an opinion that they needed to be excused” because of prior knowledge, Frasier said.

Today’s proceedings will begin with opening statements by the prosecution and the defense, though Shaun McCrea could choose to wait until the state has finished presenting its case so as not to tip her hand.

Courtright will be one of the first witnesses Frasier calls to the stand.

http://www.registerguard.com/web/updates/26510962-55/case-mcguffin-frasier-courtright-daughter.html.csp

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:43 pm

Emotions run high as trial begins
The prosecution opens its case against a man accused in the death of a 15-year-old Coquille girl 11 years ago


By Winston Ross
The Register-Guard
Published: (Friday, Jul 8, 2011 04:25AM) Today

COQUILLE — Nick McGuffin assumed his 15-year-old girlfriend had made it home the night she disappeared 11 years ago, his defense attorney claimed Thursday in the opening statement of the 29-year-old’s murder trial.

After spending several hours looking for Leah Freeman, who vanished June 28, 2000, McGuffin returned to Freeman’s house after midnight, Eugene attorney Shaun McCrea said. He saw a light flickering in her bedroom that he assumed was a television. He threw a couple of rocks at the window to rouse her but got no response, so he assumed Freeman was OK and went home, McCrea said. Freeman’s body turned up weeks later, down a wooded embankment on the outskirts of nearby Fairview.

When the girl’s mother, Cory Courtright, called McGuffin’s house the next morning asking if he knew where her daughter was, McGuffin said, “What, she didn’t come home last night?”

It’s a statement that Courtright has said she found incriminating, because she took it to mean McGuffin was claiming he didn’t know Freeman was missing. But McCrea said it’s an indication that her client thought Freeman was safe and sound.

“He figures she’s there, and she’s mad at him,” McCrea said. “So he goes home.”

That was one of a few elements both the prosecution and defense focused on in Thursday’s opening arguments, a session marked by fuzzy memories of the 11-year-old facts and simmering emotions, despite how much time has passed.

Both Freeman’s mother and the girl’s sister, Denise Bertrand, took the stand. Both stopped several times to regain their composure, especially when asked to remember their last moments with Freeman.

The girl told her mother on June 28 that she was going to take her advice, Courtright said, spend more time with her friends and less with the boyfriend who had monopolized much of her life in the preceding months — to the worry of family and friends. Courtright said she was glad to hear it, she said, and then Leah “jumped up and kissed me on the cheek, and said, ‘I love you mommy.’ I never saw her again.”

Other memories were more difficult to come by. When Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier asked if Freeman had a television in her bedroom — one that could produce the flickering glow McGuffin said convinced him the girl was home safe — Courtright first said she couldn’t remember.

Nor did she recall McGuffin telling her the day after Leah went missing about the pebbles he claimed to have thrown at the window, she testified. When cross-examined by McCrea, though, Courtright said there was a TV in her daughter’s room, and that she did remember that conversation with McGuffin.

In response to prosecutors’ questions, Bertrand testified that there were no rocks beneath Leah’s window the next day, and that when she went into her sister’s room late that night, no lights were on.

The state spent much of the day calling witnesses who described a rocky, all-consuming relationship between Freeman, then a freshman at Coquille High School, and McGuffin, a senior. Witnesses also testified that McGuffin’s demeanor quickly shifted from calm and helpful to agitated and curt, “chainsmoking cigarettes as fast as he could light them,” Assistant District Attorney Erika Soublet said, once he figured out he was under suspicion.

Prosecutors said they will call at least one witness when the trial resumes next week who will testify to seeing McGuffin and Freeman together hours after the boy claimed he was last with her; an officer who will testify that McGuffin told him he knew who killed Freeman; a witness who claims McGuffin told him “he kept seeing her laying there, that he couldn’t believe he had let bad things happen to her”; and another man who claims McGuffin bragged that he had killed before, and would kill again.

One witness, Soublet said, was on her way home from Coquille Valley Hospital the night of Freeman’s disappearance when she spotted McGuffin and his friend, Brent Bartley, walking close to where Freeman’s body was eventually found, so badly decomposed that the county medical examiner couldn’t determine the exact cause of death. The two were on either side of Freeman, and seemed to be holding her up as they walked, Soublet said.

The state will also call to the stand Kristen Steinhoff, who claims McGuffin came to her house the same night Freeman went missing and tried to have sex with her after the two did methamphetamine.

McCrea said that the seduction attempt was Steinhoff’s, who tried to plant in McGuffin’s mind that maybe Leah had gone off to a party and was hanging out with another guy. Hooking up with Steinhoff was about “payback,” McCrea said, but it was McGuffin who changed his mind when he realized that would be the wrong thing to do.

Soublet said the five men and nine women on the jury, which included two alternates, will hear next week from a man who knew McGuffin years after Freeman went missing, a man who was dating someone the accused had also seen from time to time. McGuffin didn’t like that, Soublet said in her opening statement, and the witness will testify that McGuffin warned him: “I strangled that bitch, and I can do the same to you” and “I’ve killed before and I can kill again.”

While they’ve yet to present their case, McGuffin’s two attorneys described McGuffin and Freeman’s relationship as a loving one, albeit with some turbulence along the way.

“Nicholas McGuffin and Leah Freeman were young and they were in love, and that includes all the kinds of teenage things that go along with that love,” Shaun McCrea said. “There were arguments, but they were like passing thundershowers.”

The prosecution called one witness, Matthew Carney, out of turn on Thursday because he is set to deploy with the military to Afghanistan next week.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Bob McCrea questioned Carney, a former classmate of Freeman’s, about his relationship with another yet-to-be called witness, Raymond Lewis, asking about his whereabouts the night Freeman vanished and whether Lewis could provide an alibi. Shaun McCrea had said in her opening that there was evidence that Freeman’s clothing may have been sliced by a knife. Bob McCrea asked Carney whether Lewis commonly kept hunting equipment, specifically a hunting knife, in his truck.

When Carney said he couldn’t remember whether Lewis was with him the night Freeman disappeared, District Attorney Frasier ended his redirect with this blunt question:

“Did Mr. Lewis ever tell you he was involved in any way, shape or form in the disappearance of Leah Freeman?”

“No,” Carney replied.

The McCreas said that McGuffin loved his girlfriend and was distraught when she went missing, so much that he was hospitalized with a panic attack after she disappeared.

The McCreas also highlighted the state’s lack of physical evidence, saying that despite thorough examinations and lab tests conducted from samples of McGuffin’s car, his parents’ car and Steinhoff’s car, none of the samples showed any link between the crime and the defendant.

“You will be voting ‘Not guilty,’ ” Shaun McCrea told the jury. “Because he’s an innocent man.”

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/26516747-41/mcguffin-freeman-mccrea-leah-attorney.html.csp

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:56 pm

Victim's mom describe's final goodbye
Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:40 pm



COQUILLE -- "She jumped up and kissed me on the cheek, and said,‘I love you Mommy.'"

Cory Courtright paused, looking toward the floor of the witness stand. She clutched a tissue; tears streamed down her face.

"I never saw her again."

Courtright, mother of homicide victim Leah Freeman, was one of the first witnesses to testify at Nick McGuffin's murder trial. Her testimony came after the prosecution and defense gave their opening statements.

Erika Soublet, Coos County's chief deputy district attorney described the night of June 28, 2000, as she and District Attorney R. Paul Frasier have pieced it together through interviews with more than 100 witnesses.

They concluded the then-18-year-old McGuffin killed 15-year-old Freeman and dumped her body down an embankment off Fairview Road.



Soublet said prosecutors have located a new witness who saw two men walking down Fairview Road the night of June 28, supporting a blond girl between them.

Other testimony, they say, tracks McGuffin's movements the night of June 28.

McGuffin told police he dropped Freeman off at a friend's house around 7 that night and never saw her again.When he went to pick her up at 9, she already had left her friend's house. The friend told McGuffin that Freeman stormed out after they had a fight.

Witnesses saw Freeman walking down Central Avenue toward home around 9 p.m.McGuffin said he drove down Central Avenue looking for Freeman, but never found her.

Not true, Soublet said.

She and Frasier intend to call witnesses who will testify that they saw McGuffin catch up to Freeman on Central Avenue that night. She said witnesses will testify they saw Freeman and McGuffin get into an argument. One witness saw Freeman standing in the high school parking lot, near his house, and heard a scream a short while later, Soublet said.

Many witnesses saw McGuffin drive around looking for Freeman, saying he couldn't find her.

In the defense's opening statement, McGuffin's lawyer, Shaun McCrea, told the jury McGuffin did not catch up to Freeman.He was frantic when he couldn't find her, and drove around town for most of the night looking for her, McCrea said. At one point he enlisted a friend's help with the search.

He stopped looking around 3 a.m. after going to Freeman's house and seeing the light of a television flickering in the window, McCrea said.

The trial was scheduled to reconvene at 1 p.m. with testimony from Freeman's sister.

Learn more in Friday's edition of The World.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_e70b90e8-a8d1-11e0-8308-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1RX9s84QR

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:58 pm

Mother of Ore. girl killed in 2000 testifies as murder trial opens
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
First Posted: July 08, 2011 - 7:01 am
Last Updated: July 08, 2011 - 12:52 pm

COQUILLE, Ore. — The mother of an Oregon teen found slain 11 years ago has testified that the last time she saw her daughter, the 15-year-old said she was going to take her mom's advice and spend less time with her boyfriend.

That boyfriend, now-29-year-old Nicholas McGuffin, is on trial for first-degree murder in Leah Freeman's death. The girl disappeared on the night of June 28, 2000. Her body was found five weeks later.

Cory Courtright told a Circuit Court jury on Thursday that she had told her daughter that she needed to spend more time with friends.

Police investigated McGuffin, but no charges were filed until last year, when a grand jury considering new evidence indicted him.

Prosecutor Erika Soublet told jurors that testimony would show McGuffin and Freeman were seen together after Freeman left a friend's house the night she vanished.

Defense attorney Shaun McCrea said in her opening statement that prosecutors have no physical evidence linking McGuffin to the crime.

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/d01f31fa429b45799a441d17de65f9c2/OR--Teen-Slain-Trial/



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

McGuffin trial recessed until Monday
Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 4:59 pm

The trial of Nicholas McGuffin in connection to the death of Leah Freeman has been recessed until Monday.

Judge Richard Barron has a conflict Friday.

After opening statements the prosecution called Freeman's mother, Cory Courtright, and sister to the witness stand to testify about McGuffin and Freeman's relationship and the events the night that she disappeared.

The prosecution also called several of Leah's high school friends, who also talked about the relationship between McGuffin and Freeman.

Testimony will resume Monday morning at 9.

Read more in Friday's World


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_bc1f2772-a8f5-11e0-85f1-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1RXAFeDEH

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:07 am

Aside from slaying, sides' stories mesh
Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011 11:00 am

Leah Freeman probably died sometime the night of June 28, 2000.

Her body was found discarded 37 days later down an embankment off Fairview Road.

All Freeman's internal organs had decomposed, and the medical examiner could find no fractures or nicks on her skeleton to indicate she had been shot or stabbed.

Still, the examiner ruled her death to be homicidal violence, and a hunt for her killer began.

Ten years later, police arrested her then-boyfriend, Nick McGuffin for the murder. Thursday, the long-awaited trial began.

According to police reports filed in 2000, witnesses last saw Freeman walking down Central Avenue in Coquille that night toward her home on Knott Street.

She never made it.

In their opening statements, the prosecution laid out the paths of both Freeman, and then 18-year-old McGuffin, as far as witnesses could take them.

Where did they go?

Both the prosecution and defense agree several people saw Freeman walking down Central Avenue at some point either before or after 9 p.m.

Freeman had had a fight with her best friend, stormed out of her friend's house, and was walking home.

McGuffin showed up a little after 9 to pick her up. As Freeman had already left, he drove off in his blue Mustang to catch up to her.

Here is where the two stories change.

The prosecution claims to have witnesses who saw McGuffin catch up to Freeman on Central Avenue. Furthermore, a witness saw the couple fighting.

Another witness saw Freeman standing in a phone booth, as two men were fighting in a nearby parking lot.

Someone else saw Freeman standing in a parking lot across from the high school as he was driving home. That witness heard a scream a short while later.

All this happened before 10 p.m.

The defense maintains that McGuffin never caught up to Freeman. It was impossible, there was not enough time.

But after this short period, the prosecution and defense agree again.

Many people saw McGuffin driving all over Coquille the night of June 28 and early morning of June 29. He told everyone he was looking for Leah, couldn't find Leah.

He called Freeman's mother asking if she had come home.

He visited Freeman's sister at her job at Denny's Pizza twice asking if she had seen her.

He was stopped by two police officers for a burnt out headlight, and asked them if they had seen Leah.

He went to a friend's house to elicit help finding Leah.

At some point in the night he went to another friend's house and had a sexual encounter with her. The prosecution claims McGuffin did meth with this girl. Then the two of them went out in the friend's car looking for Leah.

The defense claims that McGuffin stopped looking for Freeman around 3 a.m. when he went to Freeman's house. He saw a television light flickering in her upstairs bedroom window, threw some small rocks at the window to get her attention, determined that she was mad at him and went home.

The prosecution contests this.

And then there is the prosecution's new witness, who saw two men walking down Fairview Road with a short blond girl supported between them.

Regardless, the next morning, Freeman's mother called McGuffin to find her daughter.

He came over immediately. He went with Freeman's family to file a missing-person report. He helped look.

Eventually he had an anxiety attack and ended up in the hospital.

The prosecution claims this was after an interview with police. The defense maintains McGuffin was sick with worry about Freeman.

More details about the night of June 28 will be revealed as both sides call witnesses during the next two weeks of trial.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_79dc98a9-8c45-593d-ab19-ed68847b3708.html#ixzz1RZsfDxSM

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:21 pm

Freeman's best friend testifies
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2011 11:31 am

The Nick McGuffin murder trial continued this morning with the testimony of Cheri Mitchell, who was Leah Freeman’s best friend.

Mitchell said that she had disapproved of the relationship between Freeman and McGuffin.

She also stated that Freeman had began using drugs during the course of the relationship.

The last time she saw Freeman alive, Mitchell said that she and Freeman had just had a fight. She said she had just told Freeman that she disapproved of her relationship with McGuffin and her drug use.

Testimony will continue at 11 a.m. today


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_6c84ec0c-abec-11e0-9f0a-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1RpWwH6uk

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by sitemama on Mon Jul 11, 2011 4:38 pm

http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_5b867564-abfc-11e0-b1c1-001cc4c002e0.html

Witnesses today testified Nick had smoked pot that night before going to pick Leah up. They also testified that they were too high to remember a lot of the details of that night!

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 7:15 pm

Witnesses recount Freeman's disappearance, McGuffin's actions
Published: Jul 11, 2011 at 2:59 PM PDT

COQUILLE, Ore. - Witnesses continued to paint a picture of the events before and after Leah Freeman disappeared on June 28, 2000, as prosecutors continued to whittle away at the clean-cut image of the man accused of killing his high school girlfriend more than a decade ago.

Nick McGuffin faces a charge of murder in Freeman's death. Her body was found thrown off the side of a road in August 2000. A grand jury indicted McGuffin last year.

Sherrie Mitchell, who considered Leah to be her best friend at the time, testified to the changes in Freeman after she started dating McGuffin.

"She started using drugs, um, she stopped being, like, bubbly and happy and fun to be around and kind of became, like, serious and dramatic," Mitchell testified Monday, "and she was really jealous, which I didn't remember her being before."

Prosecutors also called McGuffin's friend, Brent Bartley, who testified that he noticed a change in the trunk of McGuffin's Mustang after Freeman's disappearance. He told the court the trunk looked "clean."

"What about the trunk?" asked Chief Deputy District Attorney Erika Soublet.

"Dirty, because that's where he threw all his stuff, usually, then after it was clean," Bartley said.

"I'm sorry," Soublet said, "can you say again, what?"

"It was clean," Bartley said.

"And when was that?"

"After this all happened."

"By 'this all happened,' you mean after Miss Freeman went missing?" Soublet asked.

Bartley answered, "Yes."


http://www.kval.com/news/local/125379343.html


Last edited by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:36 pm

I didn't have the benefit of hearing all of Bartley's testimony, but I hope he isn't suffering from Anthony syndrome where he testifies to certain things that make Nick look bad, but then withholds other vital information that could help convict him.

I know that lie detectors aren't used in court and many don't believe they are reliable, but his lie detector results indicated that he knew who was responsible for Leah's disappearance and was withholding critical information. Then you have the testimony from the hospital worker that placed him with Nick and Leah near the site where Leah's body was found.

It looks like he is willing to testify about the trunk being cleaned out, but he isn't willing to testify to everything he knows about the crime.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:28 pm

Friends of Defendant and Victim Testify in McGuffin Trial
July 11, 2011

COQUILLE, Ore. -- The jury in the Nicholas McGuffin trial heard from his friends as well as those of the victim, Leah Freeman.

The night Freeman went missing, she went over to her best friend Sherrie Mitchell's house.

Mitchell says Leah changed when she started dating McGuffin and started using drugs.

That night, Mitchell says she decided to tell her best friend exactly how she felt about McGuffin.

"I've never seen her be angry and slap somebody or be overly dramatic or overly jealous. I've never seen those things from her and I thought maybe he brought that out in her," says Mitchell.

But she says Freeman got mad and left the house crying. That was the last time anyone saw Leah alive.

Next on the stand was another friend of the murder victim.

Melissa Smith says several days after Freeman's memorial service, she and McGuffin got drunk and slept together.

"We were looking at pictures and stuff and he had said that he knows that if he was with anybody that Leah would want it to be with one of her good friends," says Smith.

The defense countered saying that was because McGuffin still cared about Freeman.

One of McGuffin's friends also took the stand. Brent Bartley says he helped McGuffin search for Freeman when she went missing.

A few days after Leah's disappearance, the friend recalled checking out the defendant's car.

"It was clean, cleaned out," says Bartley.

Prosecution plans on calling new witnesses Tuesday.

http://kezi.com/news/local/217714

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:29 pm

Friends testify in day 2 of McGuffin murder trial
Coquille (KMTR) - The state called a handful of witnesses this morning, most friends of either Leah Freeman or Nick McGuffin. Cheri Mitchell was Leah Freeman's best friend at the time she disappeared; she's also one of the last people to have seen Freeman alive. In her testimony Monday morning, Mitchell recounted the events of the night her friend went missing, and her concerns about the relationship with Nick McGuffin.

Cheri Mitchell says she knew Nick McGuffin as a "druggie" in high school, and she was always concerned about her friend getting involved with him. Once Freeman and McGuffin began dating, Mitchell says things changed, “She started using drugs. She stopped being bubbly and fun to be around, and kind of became like, serious and dramatic." Mitchell testified that Freeman was always aware of her disapproval, but she didn't express it outright until June 28, 2000, the night Leah Freeman went missing. The two were at Mitchell's home, and got into an argument, when Mitchell told Freeman exactly what she thought of Nick McGuffin.

"I didn't think they were very good together,” Mitchell said, “They didn't bring out the best in each other they brought out the worst in each other."

Mitchell says Freeman walked away from the house, and Nick McGuffin arrived shortly after, when he was supposed to Freeman up.

As for what happened next, the prosecution and defense will each present their own version of the events of that night.

Brent Bartley also took the stand Monday. He was with Freeman and McGuffin for part of the night Freeman went missing. Bartley was questioned about McGuffin’s car. He drove a mustang, and Bartley said the trunk was usually pretty messy, until after Leah Freeman disappeared. Bartley testified that after Freeman went missing, McGuffin’s trunk was clean.

The trial is expected to last three weeks, and testimony continues Tuesday.

http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Friends-testify-in-day-2-of-McGuffin-murder-trial/VIvnBiMa8Eu6nB31fOFyAA.cspx

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:31 pm

"The brought out the worst in each other"
Story Published: Jul 11, 2011 at 6:41 PM PDT

The Leah Freeman murder trial resumed with the prosecution delving into the culture of drinking and drug-use that they allege Nick McGuffin brought Freeman into as they dated.

Brent Bartley, a friend of McGuffin's, testified that he and his girlfriend, Nicky Price, gathered with McGuffin and Freeman for a night of movies and drinking at his grandparents home, as they were away, on the night of June 28, 2000.

That was the night the 15 year old teen disappeared, but Bartley also testified that he had trouble remembering some of the events because, besides being 11 years ago, he had been drinking and smoking marijuana.

He did tell Chief Deputy District Attorney Erika Soublet that he remembered his friend's Ford Mustang, which usually had a dirty trunk, had a clean trunk after Freeman went missing.

Under cross-examination, Defense Attorney Shaun McCrea sought to dispel an assertion from the prosecution earlier in the trial that a witness had recalled seeing two men, who matched the description of McGuffin and Bartley, walking on Fairview Mountain late that night. They reportedly had a blond girl with them.

When asked if he was on Fairview Mountain that night or early the next morning, Bartley stated he had not.

The last person known to have talked with Leah Freeman before the disappearance was her friend Sherrie Mitchell.

Mitchell noted that she had seen changes in her best friend after she started dating the 18-year-old McGuffin during her Freshman year at Coquille High School.

She said her friend had started using drugs after dating McGuffin, who she said was a known "druggie," and had become more jealous.

The two, she said, seemed to bring out the worst in each other, noting that both were flirtatious and jealous, causing arguments.

When Freeman had been at her home on the evening of the 28th, "hanging-out," she wrote a note to Mitchell as the two listened to music in her room.

Mitchell read the letter in court, which included an update on Freeman's relationship with McGuffin. "...Nick and I have been getting along a lot better," Freeman wrote, "I wasn't really mad at Nick when I got out to come over to the house, I just didn't feel like being around him anymore tonight. I love him to death, but that boy gets an attitude sometimes..."

Before she had found the note in her room, Mitchell and Freeman had argued after Mitchell's mother wouldn't let Sherrie go jogging with Leah.

Discussion again turned to her relationship with McGuffin. "They didn't bring out the best in each other, they brought out the worst in each other and, you know, it wasn't something I had really told her before and so I was just honest. I told her I didn't think that they were a great couple."

District Attorney Paul Frasier asked how Leah Freeman responded to that. Mitchell replied, "She said, 'I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you'...and she walked away.

Mitchell testified that it was pretty soon after that that McGuffin arrived at her home looking for Freeman.




http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125389568.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 11, 2011 11:49 pm

Justice4all wrote:I didn't have the benefit of hearing all of Bartley's testimony, but I hope he isn't suffering from Anthony syndrome where he testifies to certain things that make Nick look bad, but then withholds other vital information that could help convict him.

I know that lie detectors aren't used in court and many don't believe they are reliable, but his lie detector results indicated that he knew who was responsible for Leah's disappearance and was withholding critical information. Then you have the testimony from the hospital worker that placed him with Nick and Leah near the site where Leah's body was found.

It looks like he is willing to testify about the trunk being cleaned out, but he isn't willing to testify to everything he knows about the crime.

J4A...I don't think we have ever completely agreed about this case. I have a couple of questions for you.

What do you make of Bartley stating that the truck of Nicks car was "clean" but that it was "dirty" before Leah went missing? I'd like you to keep something in mind when you want him answer that question....Did Cory state that Nick & Leah were "cleaning" Nicks car...earlier that same day? Don't you think it's possible that the trunk got cleaned too?

Also, how many times did Bartley...during his testamony (what little was shown), did he either snicker, smile or bite his lip? IMO...those are signs of smugness...maybe even guilt.

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:26 pm

FystyAngel wrote:J4A...I don't think we have ever completely agreed about this case. I have a couple of questions for you.

What do you make of Bartley stating that the truck of Nicks car was "clean" but that it was "dirty" before Leah went missing? I'd like you to keep something in mind when you want him answer that question....Did Cory state that Nick & Leah were "cleaning" Nicks car...earlier that same day? Don't you think it's possible that the trunk got cleaned too?
Cory said Nick and Leah were washing his car and splashing each other with water. It's possible they cleaned out his trunk, but I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere. Has it ever been said for sure whether the trunk had a liner prior to Leah's disappearance?

FystyAngel wrote:Also, how many times did Bartley...during his testamony (what little was shown), did he either snicker, smile or bite his lip? IMO...those are signs of smugness...maybe even guilt.
I don't put too much effort into trying to read body language, but I did get the feeling that he wasn't being completely forthcoming. If he was displaying any kind of guilt, it could stem from the crime itself, helping cover up the crime, or simply from withholding information that could have helped solve this case years ago.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:10 pm

Freeman began using drugs while dating McGuffin, a friend testifies
Friend: He changed Leah

Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:00 am

COQUILLE -- She thought Leah would come back.

Cheri Mitchell took another deep breath as she sat on the witness stand waiting for the next question during her testimony at Nick McGuffin's trial for Leah Freeman's 2000 death.

Eleven years ago, Mitchell had a big fight with her best friend.

Fifteen-year-old Freeman was dating McGuffin, who was older and a 'known druggie," Mitchell said. She did not approve.

What was worse, Mitchell testified, during the relationship Freeman began using drugs as well.

'I said I thought she was better than doing drugs," Mitchell said.

But that wasn't all. As the two friends stood in Mitchell's front yard, Mitchell spoke her mind.

Freeman's relationship with 18-year-old McGuffin was toxic, she said. They were not good together. They brought out the worst in each other.

Freeman did not take the lecture well.

'She said, 'I'm sorry I'm not good enough for you,' and walked away," Mitchell testified.

'I thought she would come back."

Troubled friendship

When Freeman didn't turn around, Mitchell went back into her house.

A short while later, McGuffin came to pick up his girlfriend.

He had dropped her off at Mitchell's house two hours earlier, around 7 p.m.

Freeman looked a little peeved coming out of the car, Mitchell testified.

'Nick hadn't wanted her to come in by herself," Mitchell said. He thought the two friends would fight over his relationship with Freeman, she said.

Still, the rendezvous was fun. Mitchell and Freeman listened to music and gossiped.

It turned south when the friends decided to go jogging a little before 9 p.m. and Mitchell's mom said no.

In the past, McGuffin had picked Freeman up in the middle of the girls' jog, and Mitchell was left to come home alone in the dark. It made her mom nervous.

Freeman overheard the conversation.

'She walked straight outside," Mitchell said. 'She said, 'Your mom hates me.'"

No, Mitchell replied, she just disapproved of her decision making, of late.

When Freeman started dating McGuffin, her personality changed, Mitchell testified.

When they first met 'she was hilarious," Mitchell said Monday, crying. 'She was fun, goofy -- that little ball of energy nobody could keep up with. Everybody wanted to be around her."

But Mitchell said the drugs and McGuffin changed that.

'She stopped being bubbly and happy and fun to be around," she testified. 'They would fight in the high school parking lot in front of everybody. Leah slapped him."

Leah's words

Mitchell wasn't the only one to notice the change.

Freeman was an avid letter and journal writer during her life. So on Monday, Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier let jurors hear Freeman's story from Freeman's perspective, with letters she wrote to McGuffin.

In the first letter Freeman seemed lovesick. 'I can't believe I miss you as much as I do and it is only Friday," Freeman wrote. 'Have you noticed how much more comfortable I am around you?"

Freeman goes on to tell McGuffin how much she loves him, and apologize for not telling him more often.

When she wrote the second letter, Freeman was less happy.

'I don't understand how you can be so pissed at me," the letter began. Apparently, the two had a fight about another boy flirting with Freeman.

'You can't keep treating me like I'm just your bitch.

'I depress all my friends because you depress me.

'With all these problems I think we would have broken up by now."

In the final letter Frasier read Monday, Freeman asked McGuffin for a break from the relationship.

'We've forgotten how much we need each other," she wrote. 'Would time apart help?"

Still, the evening of June 28, Freeman did not want to hear that from her best friend, Mitchell said. And she stormed off.

'You had to have just missed her," Mitchell told McGuffin a few minutes after Freeman left her house. 'She's walking home, you'll catch her."

McGuffin had just come from smoking marijuana by Johnson Mill Pond, several witnesses testified.

Earlier in the day, McGuffin and Freeman were picking out movies with McGuffin's friend Brent Bartley. After Freeman left Cheri Mitchell's house, the three and Bartley's girlfriend had planned to drink alcohol and watch movies at Bartley's grandparents' house.

But Freeman was not where she was supposed to be.

The walk down Central

Many people saw Freeman as she made her way down Central Avenue. Mark Kirn and Mike McAdams watched her pass Hunter's Eatery and Creamery while they scarfed down hamburgers. Heide Crook drove past her as she walked by McKay's. Thomas Bounds saw her standing in the parking lot of the high school.

Then 11-year-old Alicia Hartwell spotted her walking past the high school. Hartwell was riding home from a church activity with a friend's family.

She spotted Freeman along the road, then glanced back as her van drove past.

Hartwell saw a dark, older-model car with one round headlight dimmer than the other pull up next to Freeman.

'She stopped and spoke to someone in the car," Hartwell testified. 'It appeared that she had known who it was."

She couldn't remember exactly what time it was.

McGuffin drove a dark blue Mustang that had a burnt-out headlight later that night.

During the cross examination, McGuffin's lawyers pointed out that in 2000 Hartwell told police and the grand jury that the vehicle she saw that night was a compact car.

Around the time Hartwell's van drove past, Bounds came back from his trip to town and spotted Freeman again, this time in the phone booth in front of the Shell gas station, across from the high school.

About 10 minutes later -- after he got home to his apartment behind the gas station -- he heard a girl scream, he testified.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_2d4d143a-ec20-5535-9761-759865ded1a5.html#ixzz1RwJExgHc

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:12 pm

Receipt was found near body
posted July 12, 2011


Who done it?

Eleven years ago, police found a receipt belonging to Raymond Lewis near the discarded remains of 15-year-old Leah Freeman near Fairview Road.

The police questioned Lewis, then 16, about the receipt for truck lifts found on Hudson Ridge.

Lewis said he had the receipt in his pickup. He spent a lot of time hunting and mudding on Hudson Ridge. He didn't know how the receipt got there.

The police did not pursue Lewis any further.

But during Nick McGuffin's trial for the murder of Leah Freeman on Monday, the defense lawyers had many questions for Lewis.

Why would he have been on Hudson Ridge during that time?

The receipt was dated May 30. Freeman went missing June 28. Her body was found 37 days later.

There was no hunting season during those months, Robert McCrea, one of McGuffin's lawyers, pointed out.

It was summer, so there was no mud.

Lewis testified that he could not remember exactly where he went the night of June 28. It was a long time ago, he said.

He did remember seeing Freeman walking down Central Avenue sometime after 9 p.m. as he drove by in his truck.

He owned a hunting rifle and knife, but rarely had them in his truck, he testified.

'The police didn't look in your pickup?" McCrea asked.

'It was never processed by a crime lab? The police never searched your home?"

No, Lewis answered.

Coos County District Attorney R. Paul Frasier was even more direct.

'Did you have anything to do with the disappearance or death of Leah Freeman?" Frasier asked.

'No," Lewis replied.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_0e0a03c7-a4a2-5008-9cc5-ad1ace0a863d.html#ixzz1RwJea8OM

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:13 pm

Hamilton questioned in McGuffin trial
Friend says McGuffin met Freeman the night she disappeared

Posted: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 11:10 am

COQUILLE — A witness at Nick McGuffin’s murder trial said that McGuffin told him he did find Leah Freeman after she left her friend’s house around 9 p.m. June 28, 2000, even though he told police he did not.

Dennis Scott Hamilton he testified this morning that years after Freeman’s death he asked McGuffin if he had anything to do with Freeman’s disappearance.

McGuffin told him that he had nothing to do with it. He went to pick up Freeman from Cheri Mitchell’s house that night, but Freman had already left. He said that he caught up with Freeman on Central Avenue, but the two of them got into an argument and he dropped Freeman off by McKay’s.

Except McGuffin told police he never caught up to Freeman.

Hamilton also said that he and McGuffin later went to the spot on Lee Valley Road where Freeman's body was found. He said McGuffin looked over the edge and said, "It's almost like I can see her lying down there."

In cross-examination, defense attorney Robert McCrea asked Hamilton whether that had happened before or after Freeman's body was found.

Hamilton said he didn't remember.

McCrea then read a series of statements Hamilton had to police made during the initial investigation and more recently, after the investigation was re-opened. McCrea pointed out inconsistencies in the statements, saying his story about that night has changed.

Hamilton altogether denied making some of the statements, saying he wouldn't have said those things because they weren’t true.

Testimony continued in the afternoon. Read more in Wednesday's World.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_770b0a96-acb7-11e0-88e9-001cc4c002e0.html#ixzz1RwK2TjLZ

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:35 pm

Witnesses recount times with McGuffin the night Freeman went missing
Story Published: Jul 12, 2011 at 5:12 PM PDT

COQUILLE, ORE. - Once again, witness testimony in the Nick McGuffin murder trial turns to establishing a timeline of events, the night Leah Freeman went missing.

One thing that's for sure in the early part of the prosecutions case, is that a decade old case makes clear recollection difficult for witnesses.

The proceedings began Wednesday morning in Judge Richard Barron's courtroom, with the prosecution calling on four people who claimed to have been with, or seen McGuffin the night Freeman went missing.

The first being Nick's high school friend Brett Mauro who claimed he saw nick at about 9:40 that night at the Fast Mart.

"I asked the defendant to go somewhere with me and he said 'no' his girlfriend was gone. And I said, 'she can't be gone she has to be somewhere' and he said, 'no, she's gone.'" says Mauro. Coos County District Attorney Paul Frasier follows up by asking, "And did he repeat that she was gone?" "4,5,6 times," Mauro replied.

What was perhaps the most shocking testimony also led to the some of the sharpest exchanges in the trial as McGuffin's friend Danny Hamilton claimed McGuffin and Freeman met up together after McGuffin dropped her off at Sherrie Mitchell's house.

McGuffin has always claimed he never saw Freeman again after he dropped her off that evening.

"She was supposed to be going to a friends house and I think they may have got into an argument about it or what not, and some point or another, they met up again in his car. Nick found her and they were arguing and she got out of the car somewhere around McKay's and Nick said he drove around a loop and went back to go find her and never could find her," says Hamilton.

But the defense had credibility issues with Hamilton, when he said he couldn't remember saying certain things to detectives investigating the case.

McGuffin's defense attorney Robert McCrea asks Hamilton, "did you make that statement to the detective?" "Not that I remember, no... like you're saying this is ten years ago, it's hard to remember some of it. I remember the stuff in my mind that seemed funny but other than that I don't remember all that other stuff," says Hamilton.

Kristen Steinhoff-Ramsey and Tina Mims also took the stand testifying to seeing McGuffin that night.

It is anticipated the defense could start presenting their case by the end of the week.

http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125457243.html




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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Tue Jul 12, 2011 8:41 pm

Witness: McGuffin's behavior 'was weird because Leah was missing'
Story Published: Jul 12, 2011 at 3:16 PM PDT

COQUILLE, Ore. - A witness who claimed to hear a man accused of murdering his high school girlfriend in 2000 telling someone to "watch her mouth and not talk to the cops" broke down in court Tuesday, saying she tried to go to police a decade ago but no one would listen.



Nick McGuffin is on trial for the 2000 murder of 15-year-old Leah Freeman. She vanished in June of that year. Her body turned up in August.

Prosecution witness Kristen Steinhauff told she court she smoked meth with McGuffin the night Leah disappeared - and that McGuffin tired to have sex with her that night.

She told the court "it was weird because Leah was missing."


Another witness, Tina Mims, said that after Leah vanished, she overhead McGuffin telling Steinhauff "watch her mouth and not talk to the cops" and something about "the back of a car being cleaned out."

That testimony sent an audible gasp through the courtroom.

Mims then broke down crying, saying she tried to go to police 10 years ago and say something but that no one would listen.

This is a developing story. Watch this website and its TV affiliate at 5, 6 and 11 Tuesday for updates.

http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125450233.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:19 am

Leah Freeman murder trial
Witness: McGuffin's brother joked about shoe

Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 10:53 am

COQUILLE — An acquaintance of Nick McGuffin and his brother Wayne testified today that shortly after police discovered Leah Freeman's shoe on Hudson Ridge near Coquille, Wayne joked that it had been put there as a decoy.

Kristen Young, who at the time was staying with a friend of the McGuffins, testified as a witness for the prosecution in Nick McGuffin's trial for murder in the death of Freeman.

Another witness, Richard Bryant, shared a cell in the Coos County jail with Nick McGuffin after McGuffin was arrested as part of the Freeman investigation last summer. He said McGuffin told him he was sad that he hadn't been able to do anything to help Freeman. "I could picture her there with her head sitting on a rock, and I couldn't do anything about it."

This afternoon, medical professionals and the director of an Oregon State Police crime lab will testify.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_08737e78-ad7b-11e0-ba75-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1S3bRUFuH

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Criminologist found no forensic evidence

Coquille (KMTR) - A forensic expert from the State Crime Lab took the stand Wednesday. Back in 2000, she analyzed both of Leah Freeman's shoes, the clothing she was found in, along with Nick McGuffin's residence and 2 cars he was known to drive. She didn't find much evidence from either of the vehicles, but she did remark at the trunk of McGuffin's blue Mustang.

It's the car McGuffin was driving the night Leah Freeman disappeared. Criminologist Kathy Wilcox analyzed the Mustang in July of 2000, and says she was surprised when she opened up the trunk, “No spare tire, no trunk liner. I remember when I opened it I was just going, wow, there's just nothing."

Leah Freeman's shoes were found in separate locations on different dates. Wilcox says she found a little blood spatter on one of the shoes, belonging to Freeman, and DNA consistent with the deputy who recovered the shoe.

Another witness Wednesday, Kristen Young, testified she was at her apartment with Nick McGuffin and his brother Wayne one day in the summer of 2000 when a news program came on, reporting one of Leah Freeman's shoes had been found. Young said, "Wayne looked at his brother, and addressed him and the room, and said, 'Oh they won't find anything from that shoe, it was put there to make them think she was up there.’” Young says Nick McGuffin nodded in agreement and laughed, but she did not tell that part of the story to the grand jury last year.

http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/Forensic-expert-testifies-in-McGuffin-murder-trial/rh7xEyJTcUSeZS6ZH3_8Gw.cspx

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Criminologist found no forensic evidence
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 12:48 pm


Retired Oregon State Police Criminologist Kathy Wilcox testified at the Nick McGuffin murder trial this morning.

Wilcox processed all items brought to the OSP Coos Bay crime lab in the summer of 2000 in connection with the Leah Freeman case, including McGuffin’s home and cars, and Freeman’s clothing.

Wilcox said she found no forensic evidence linking McGuffin to Freeman’s disappearance in either McGuffin’s Mustang or his parent’s Thunderbird. She also found no evidence in the McGuffin house.

When Freeman’s body was discovered, Wilcox processed her clothing. She found no evidence on the pants.

Testimony about the other articles of clothing will continue at 1 p.m.

Wilcox said examining the clothes was very difficult.

“Leah Freeman’s clothes were in really bad condition,” she said.

Freeman’s body had been outside for over a month during the hot summer, she said.

“She had basically melted inside her clothes,” Wilcox said.

Read more in Thursday’s World.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_6cbf0614-ad89-11e0-ba0f-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1S3c2rgVy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Acquaintance says McGuffin threatened him, alluded to killing
Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2011 3:02 pm


Testifying for the prosecution in Nick McGuffin's murder trial Wednesday afternoon, a witness said McGuffin threatened him in 2002.

David Breakfield said that Nick McGuffin told him, "I strangled that bitch and I'll strangle you too. I killed before and I'll kill again."

Breakfield was 16 at the time. McGuffin threatened him because he was dating a girl McGuffin had previously dated, Breakfield said.

Defense lawyer Robert McCrea remarked how strange it was that Breakfield had waited so long to come forward with this information.

Breakfield said he never told anyone till police inrerviewed him in 2010.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_af817248-ad9d-11e0-8184-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1S3cgMhIy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

State Calls New Witnesses to Testify
July 13, 2011


COQUILLE, Ore. -- It looks like prosecutors in the Nicholas McGuffin trial are trying to depict the murder suspect as dishonest. Plus, the state brought in a witness who examined several key pieces of evidence.

The prosecution team started the trial by playing a taped conversation between McGuffin and a witness who testified Tuesday.

The jury heard McGuffin in the recording warn Scott Hamilton not to tell police that the two visited the place where Leah Freeman's body was later found.

Hamilton testified that Nick said he could picture Leah dead, lying near a rock.

"As far as that part I don't know about that but I mean, they don't need to know about that," says Nick McGuffin.

An old cellmate of McGuffin's said Nick had said the same thing while in jail. The witness says Nick was emotional and crying.

"He could picture her laying there, sitting on a rock and he couldn't do anything about it," says Richard Bryant.

And as prosecutors called more witnesses, it became clear they were focusing on McGuffin's character.

One witness told the jury she was sleeping with McGuffin while he was dating Freeman and that the relationship continued even after she went missing

Another witness testified about a strange incident that happened when she hung out with McGuffin and his brother.

There was a TV news report about one of Freeman's shoes being found.

"Wayne looked at his brother and addressed him and the room, 'Oh they won't find anything from that shoe. It was put there to think she was up there,'" says Kristy Cabley.

When investigators found that shoe and took it in for analysis they found four spots of blood spatter on it.

A forensic scientist who examined it says because of the small size of blood drops, there was force behind it.

She also examined McGuffin's car.

"No spare tire, no trunk liner. I remember when I opened it, I went wow! There's just nothing," says Kathy Wilcox.

But the expert found no blood evidence in the car linking McGuffin to Freeman and she says there was nothing on her clothes.

http://kezi.com/news/local/217960

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Murder trial: Was absence of evidence actually evidence?
By KCBY News
Published: Jul 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM PDT


COQUILLE, Ore. - A retired Oregon State Police criminologist testified Wednesday that while investigating Leah Freeman's murder more than a decade ago, she found nothing in the trunk of Nick McGuffin's car - and that struck her as strange.

"Not a thing, nothing," asaid Kathy Wilcox. "No spare tire, no trunk liner. I remember when I opened it, I was going like, 'Wow there's just nothing.'"

Prosecutors are trying McGuffin for Freeman's murder in 2000.

Both prosecutors and the defense admit there is not physical evidence tying McGuffin to his high school girlfriend's murder. But prosecutors have called a series of witnesses who have described McGuffin's behavior and comments after Freeman's disappearance.

Wilcox testified that there was no blood found in the trunk of McGuffin's care.

Under cross examination, the defense asked if blood would still be detectable had someone hosed out the trunk. Wilcox said it could be.

Four other witnesses gave testimony Wednesday before Judge Richard Barron and a packed courtroom.

Kristen Young testified to hearing Wayne McGuffin and his brother Nick joke about police finding Freeman's shoe.

"Wayne looked at his brother and addressed him and the room that, 'Oh they won't find anything from that shoe, it was put there to make them think she was there,' " Young said.

"How did the defendant respond to that comment?" the prosecutor asked.

"He nodded his head in agreement, acknowledged his statement and laughed about it," Young said.

Defense attorney Shaun McCrea questioned that story.

"During the grand jury, you didn't say anything at all about Mr. McGuffin laughing or nodding in agreement," McCrea asked.

"Yes."

"You did not say that?" McCrea pressed.

"No."

The prosecution expected to rest it's case Wednesday night. The defense is expected to call its first witness on Thursday.

http://www.kval.com/news/local/125529778.html

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Defense expected to begin their case on Thursday
Story Published: Jul 13, 2011 at 5:10 PM PDT



COQUILLE, ORE. - As the prosecution continued to call witnesses to the stand Wednesday during the Leah Freeman murder trial, the case turned largely to the CSI kinds of evidence, with a former OSP criminologist focusing on the forensics of the case.




Five more witnesses appeared before Judge Richard Barron and a packed courtroom., to testify against Nick McGuffin in the death of Leah Freeman.

One witness, Kristen Young, testified to hearing Wayne McGuffin and brother Nick joke about police finding Freeman's shoe.

"Wayne looked at his brother and addressed him and the room that, 'oh they won't find anything from that shoe, it was put there to make them think she was there,'" explains Young. District Attorney Paul Frasier followed up by asking, "how did the defendant respond to that comment?" Young says, "he nodded his head in agreement, acknowledged his statement and laughed about it."

But the defense quickly jumped on Young's statement.

Defense attorney Shaun McCrea asks, "and during the grand jury you didn't say anything at all about Mr. McGuffin laughing or nodding in agreement." "No," replied Young.

Also on the stand, retired Oregon State Police criminologist Kathy Wilcox, testified in forensic analysis conducted on Nick McGuffin's vehicles and Leah Freeman's clothes. While there didn't seem to be anything unusual that was discovered, she was struck by something when asked by Frasier if there was anything in the trunk of McGuffin's Mustang.

"Not a thing, nothing. No spare tire, no trunk liner. I remember when I opened it I was going like, 'wow there's just nothing,'" Wilcox told the jury.

She also testified that there was no blood found in the trunk.

Under cross examination the defense asked, if someone were to hose out a trunk, would blood still be detectable if it had been there? Wilcox said it could be.

The prosecution expects to rest it's case Wednesday night.

It looks like sometime Thursday morning the defense could begin it's case and it's believed they will call their own forensic expert to testify.

http://www.kcby.com/news/125531543.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:07 pm

Witnesses say he alluded to killing Freeman
Did McGuffin confess?

Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:00 am

COQUILLE -- 'It's amazing what you can get away with in Coos County," Nick McGuffin allegedly told Leah Freeman's cousin in 2003.

Melissa Beebe, Freeman's cousin, testified at McGuffin's murder trial on Wednesday. She said his comment infuriated her.

Whether the comment was a joke or an admission of guilt is up to the jury to decide.

Several prosecution witnesses Wednesday said McGuffin either alluded to or admitted killing Freeman. District Attorney R. Paul Frasier said he expects to close his case this morning.

Freeman went missing from the streets of Coquille sometime after 9 p.m. on June 28, 2000. Police found her severely decomposed body on Aug. 3, 2000, down an embankment off Lee Valley Road.

McGuffin's alleged words, repeated by the witnesses who knew him, had tempers flaring in the courtroom Wednesday.

Strangled

'He said, 'I strangled that bitch and I'll strangle you too,'" Michael Breakfield said. It was 2002, and then-16 year old Breakfield was dating a girl who recently had been McGuffin's girlfriend, Breakfield testified.

'He said, 'I killed before and I'll kill again.'"

Breakfield didn't tell anyone about the threat until police interviewed him in 2010.

McGuffin's lawyer, Robert McCrea, said Breakfield's delay in telling the story was odd. He asked Breakfield whether McGuffin's incarceration now could help Breakfield win the affections of that same ex-girlfriend, and whether he had seen reward posters offering $10,000 for anyone with information that lead to an arrest.

Breakfield denied both suggestions.

'I can see her laying there'

In mid-September 2002, McGuffin shared a jail cell with Richard Bryant for about a week.

One day, McGuffin became very emotional, Bryant testified.

'He said he could picture her laying there, with her head sitting on a rock, 'and I couldn't do anything about it,'" Bryant said.

This was the first time Bryant had mentioned anything about a rock, McCrea pointed out.

Dennis Scott Hamilton also testified Tuesday that McGuffin drove him to the Lee Valley Road site shortly after police found the body. McGuffin, staring over the ledge, told Hamilton he could picture Freeman lying with her head on a rock, and there was 'nothing he could do," Hamilton said.

Several police officers who interviewed McGuffin before authorities located Freeman's body testified on Tuesday. They said McGuffin told them he thought Freeman might have fallen and hit her head on a rock while walking by the Coquille River.

Decoy shoe

The day police found Freeman's second shoe, discarded along Hudson Ridge, McGuffin and his older brother Wayne McGuffin were at a house with then-18-year-old Kristen Young.

A news report about the shoe came on the television, Young testified.

'Wayne McGuffin said, 'Oh, they won't find anything from that shoe, it was put there to make them think she was up there,'" Young said.

Nick McGuffin nodded and snickered, she said.

Shaun McCrea, McGuffin's other lawyer, pointed out that Wednesday's testimony was the first time Young ever indicated Nick McGuffin agreed with his older brother's comment.

Lee Valley Road

Kimberly Pugmire, known in those days as Kimberly Courtright, saw Nick McGuffin three or four days after Freeman's June 2000 disappearance. He was in the Fast Mart parking lot, a popular teen hangout, she said.

Pugmire is Freeman's older cousin and knew McGuffin well. So it was no surprise that McGuffin came to talk to her.

'He said, 'Kim, you know I had nothing to do with this,'" Pugmire testified.

She said she believed him.

Pugmire and two friends left for Myrtle Point after the conversation, taking Fairview Road. She saw McGuffin pass their car in a red car with two other men she did not recognize.

A little later, Pugmire and her friends ended up on Lee Valley Road. She saw McGuffin and the two men from the red car standing in a gravel turnoff. She drove away without speaking to them, she said.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_679aa033-2326-5580-b5aa-c733064dfa47.html#ixzz1S715md4K

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 4:10 pm

No trace evidence found on clothing
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 11:00 am



COQUILLE -- Leah Freeman's body had been rolled down a steep embankment off Lee Valley Road.

The medical examiner could tell. One arm was over her chest and the other under her back when police found her.

She lay on her back, mouth open, blond hair fanned out around her face.

The summer of 2000 was hot, and 15-year-old Freeman had been left outside for more than a month.

Her right foot was up in the air, bright red and mummified. Almost everything else had decomposed.

'She had basically melted inside her clothes," Kathy Wilcox, a retired criminalist with the Oregon State Police, testified.

Wilcox, the forensic scientist who examined almost all the Freeman case evidence in 2000, and Kris Karcher, the chief deputy medical examiner for Coos County, testified at Nick McGuffin's murder trial Wednesday.

Freeman went missing from Coquille the night of June 28, 2000. Officer Tony Wetmore found her body on Aug. 3, 2000. He was out with some other searchers checking Lee Valley Road and the nearby creek.

'I caught the unmistakable but fleeting odor of decomposition," Wetmore testified.

Wetmore, who was walking along a creek, headed toward the road to investigate.

As he neared the road, which was up a steep embankment, he entered an area littered with garbage from passing motorists.

He spotted Freeman's face.

'I called out, probably quite frantically, for Detective Mitts," Wetmore said.

Neither the criminalist nor the medical examiner could determine much from Freeman's remains.

Wilcox found no trace evidence from her clothing. Any small amount of bodily fluid left by her killer would have been overwhelmed by her own fluids as she decomposed, she testified.

'The clothing was really deteriorated," Wilcox said. She had to examine the clothes beneath a large vent because the smell was so strong.

Wilcox said she does not believe Freeman died from a gunshot or stabbing, because even with the severity of deterioration, large blood stains should have been visible in Freeman's clothing.

There were many holes in Freeman's white tank top, sports bra and jeans, Wilcox said. None of them, she determined, was caused by a knife or bullet.

But Karcher testified another laboratory that examined the clothing said a shooting or stabbing could not be ruled out.

The defense intends to call an expert witness who also examined Freeman's clothing. He will testify that a hole in the tank top and one in the bra were made by a knife wound.

The clothing was also sent to Microtrace, a private lab that finds and identifies small particles. Microtrace found several hairs and a gray paint chip on Freeman's shirt. The paint chip did not match paint on either McGuffin's Mustang or his parents' Thunderbird.

Freeman's autopsy also was futile. All her internal organs, including most of her skin except some hardened portions, had decomposed.

Karcher found no fractures or nicks on Freeman's bones to indicate a shooting, stabbing or beating.

A broken hyoid bone would indicate strangulation, but the bone was sound. That doesn't mean she wasn't strangled, Karcher said. There are several ways a person can be strangled and not break that bone.

Wilcox found blood spatter on the bottom of Freeman's left shoe, found on Hudson Ridge.

This type of blood spatter indicates velocity caused by some kind of force. Such force could include a gunshot wound; a blow struck after the victim was already bloody; or a bloody cough.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_480a3bca-9341-5bca-99ba-1e117bf2c2ed.html#ixzz1S71vVjLC

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:06 pm

More forensic evidence revealed in McGuffin murder trial

Coquille (KMTR) - Thursday morning's testimony revolved largely around forensic evidence—or lack thereof. Expert witnesses say the fact that Leah Freeman's body was found over five weeks after she was reported missing didn't leave much behind for investigators to examine.

Dr. James Olson is the forensic pathologist who performed the autopsy on Leah Freeman's body. He testified today that by the time the body was found, it had significantly decomposed, “Close to almost being completely skeletonized. No usable internal organs were left to evaluate for injury or disease."

The prosecution questioned Dr. Olson extensively about strangulation as the possible cause of Freeman's death. He couldn't say definitively whether or not she was strangled, and although other types of violence would likely have left more evidence behind, he couldn't rule those out either.

Leah Freeman's death certificate lists her cause of death as homicidal violence of an undetermined type. Dr. Olson says he believes Freeman was killed because of several pieces of evidence, such as her bloody shoe, and the fact that she was, by all accounts, a healthy teenager. However, he could not determine a specific cause of death.

Dr. Olson also performed a toxicology test, and did not detect any prescription medications or controlled substances in Freeman's body.

With that testimony, the state rested its case Thursday. The defense began calling witnesses after the lunch hour.

http://www.kmtr.com/news/local/story/More-forensic-evidence-revealed-in-McGuffin/6Y-UODkq0EusTQmNo-pDbw.cspx


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Prosecution rests in McGuffin trial
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 1:20 pm

This morning, the prosecution called its final witness in the murder trial of Nick McGuffin — the medical examiner who performed Leah Freeman's autopsy.

Dr. James Olson testified that because of the decomposition of Freeman's body, he had been unable to determine Freeman's cause of death. He had characterized it as homicidal violence of an undetermined cause.

Defense attorney Robert McCrea summed up Olson's testimony by saying, "You did the best you could with what you had, but in the end, you just can't tell us what happened to her."

McGuffin's defense team was scheduled to call its first witness at 1:30.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_9f95ee06-ae59-11e0-be94-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1S7zI44BG


Last edited by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:07 pm

McGuffin defense begins
Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2011 3:19 pm

Nick McGuffin's defense lawyers opened their case this afternoon with testimony from a private forensic consultant who did a secondary examination of Leah Freeman's clothing.

Ken Meneely testified he found two cuts — one in Freeman's tank top, the other in her sport's bra — that were made with a sharp object, most likely a knife.

Based on this finding, he said he believes Freeman was stabbed.

The cross examination became heated. District Attorney R. Paul Frasier asked if Meneely was trying to hide this from prosecution by writing a vague report.

Frasier criticized other aspects of Meneely's testimony.

Full story in Friday's World.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_9c9f980a-ae68-11e0-ad6f-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1S7zXwgvI

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:12 pm

Freeman's cause of death still unknown
Published: Jul 14, 2011 at 4:46 PM PDT

COQUILLE, ORE. - Because the body of Leah Freeman was so badly decomposed, the medical examiners and forensic scientists who examined her remains, are still inconclusive about her cause of death.

They do all seem to agree, however, that her death was the result of some sort of homicide.

With the prosecution wrapping up it's case just before the lunch break Thursday afternoon, a medical examiner and forensic expert took to the stand to explain their findings.

During questioning, Jim Pex, who's testified as a forensic expert in criminal cases across the United States, says it's hard to determine whether the body of Freeman was rolled down an embankment and left on the side of Lee Valley Road, or if she was killed there.

"That isn't always easy to establish. The one thing that I notice right away is that her legs are crossed and that is often an indication that someone has been rolled over. Whether rolled over going down an embankment or rolled over on the side, I don't know," explains Pex.

Medical Examiner James Olson says Freeman's body was almost completely skeletonized and there were no usable internal organs left to evaluate.

He could not determine a cause of death due to decomposition but felt most comfortable describing it as homicidal violence of an undetermined type.

"I chose to call it homicidal violence of an undetermined type because of the circumstances. In other words, finding other items of her apparel, one of which had blood on it. You basically have the disappearance of this healthy, young woman and she's dumped. There's no question, she's dumped in an area that was probably intended, hopefully to conceal her remains, perhaps indefinitely," says Olson.

A portion of Freeman's calf muscle, which was the most in tact part of her remains, was sent off to a lab and tested for drugs; that drug screen came back negative.

KCBY will be back in court Friday morning to hear the case from Nick McGuffin's defense team as they begin their first full day of testimony.

http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125604798.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by ohiogirl on Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:55 am

Thanks for the updates. I wonder how many witnesses the defense will put on?

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by littlethings on Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:59 pm

It has been reported that the defense intends to call 10 witnesses.

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Piper on Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:37 pm

Hi ohiogirl - I'm an Ohio girl, too! Hello littlethings!

From what I've already read, it seems more likely than not to me that Nick McGuffin is fully responsible for Leah's murder. That's my opinion and it's very tragic that it's taken 10 years to come to trial. Has the passing of time made these witnesses more comfortable to tell what they know, I don't get the feeling they are lying. Shame on them for not coming forward years ago with what they knew. The original investigation appears to have been shoddy and slanted.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:00 pm

Dueling answers may be pivotal in case
How did Leah die?

ted: Friday, July 15, 2011 11:00 am

COQUILLE - Was she strangled or stabbed?

Forensic scientists for the prosecution and the defense duked it out on the witness stand Thursday, during the seventh day of Nick McGuffin's murder trial.

The prosecution contends McGuffin strangled 15-year-old Leah Freeman 11 years ago. The defense argues she was stabbed by someone else. Two forensic scientists were expected to be re-called to the stand today to contradict each other's testimony.

Freeman went missing from Coquille on June 28, 2000. Her body was discovered 37 days later, dumped off Lee Valley Road.

Police immediately suspected Freeman's then-18-year-old boyfriend, McGuffin, but he was not charged with murder until 2010.

Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson ruled Freeman's cause of death to be homicidal violence of an undetermined cause. Her bones had no nicks or fractures, and all her organs had decomposed.

"You did the best you could with what you had, but in the end, you just can't tell us what happened to her," McGuffin's lawyer Robert McCrea asked Olson on cross-examination. Olson agreed.

Neither the Oregon State Police Coos Bay Crime Lab nor another, more advanced, lab in England could find any trace evidence or holes in her clothing to suggest a bullet wound or stabbing, although neither could be ruled out.

But a private forensic consultant hired by the defense said he found something the other investigators had missed: a hole in Freeman's tank top and one in her sports bra, made by a knife.

"You had to get close, in microscopic conditions, to get these edges," Ken Meneely said.

Meneely described for the jury how scientists determine whether a hole in clothing was made by a knife, rather than by insects or animals. Holes made by insects or animals generally have frayed edges. A knife hole is sharp and defined.

Meneely said he found a 1.5-centimeter hole with sharp edges in both Freeman's tank top and her bra. The two holes don't exactly line up, but they are close together. Her tank top could have stretched or moved in a struggle before the stabbing, he said.

Furthermore, the location of the hole shows that Freeman would have been stabbed in the fleshy region below the sternum. Thus no bones would be nicked.

Kathy Wilcox, the Oregon State Police criminalist who initially examined the clothing, testified Wednesday she could not see the sharp edges of a knife hole Meneely described, after looking at his pictures.

The prosecution plans to offer her testimony in rebuttal to Meneely's this afternoon, after which Meneely might be re-called to rebut her rebuttal.

The cause of death argument is significant because police found no blood or trace evidence in either McGuffin's Mustang or his parents' Thunderbird.

If Freeman was stabbed, it is likely forensic scientists would have found blood in the car used to transport her, Meneely said.

No blood stains were found on Freeman's clothing to indicate a stab wound. But Olson and Meneely both said a stabbed person does not always bleed profusely. Sometimes the person only bleeds internally, especially if he or she does not move, the two witnesses agreed.

"If she didn't bleed - thus no blood - there wouldn't be any blood to transfer to a car, would there?" District Attorney R. Paul Frasier fired back at Meneely during cross examination.

But even if there had been blood on the shirt, other bodily fluids may have obliterated the blood stain as Freeman's body decomposed, according to the England lab's report.

The prosecution asserts the cause of death is strangulation, because no other cause could be determined, and a witness Wednesday said McGuffin admitted to strangling "that bitch." McGuffin didn't specify whom he was describing, the witness said.

A broken hyoid bone - a bone in the neck that secures surrounding tissues - is a common sign of strangulation. Freeman's hyoid bone was sound.

But the bone does not always break, Olson testified Thursday. In fact, the hyoid bone is in three pieces during childhood and does not fuse until the early 20s. Freeman's hyoid bone would have been flexible and therefore more difficult to break, Olson testified.

The blood spatter found on the Freeman's left shoe, which was found on Hudson Ridge, supports either cause of death theory. Whether stabbed or strangled, she could have transferred blood onto the bottom of the shoe.

The question for the jury is, was Freeman transported in McGuffin's car? Police found no trace evidence of her being there, Meneely said.

"But she was seen in that car the day she disappeared," Frasier said on cross-examination. "Would it be reasonable to say that nothing of her was found in the car because that car was cleaned out before it was searched?"

Forensics is not an exact science, Meneely answered.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_ff66f7a6-af0a-11e0-8488-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1SE3T1HRM

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:02 pm

Nick McGuffin will NOT testify on own behalf
Published: Jul 15, 2011 at 5:43 PM PDT

A trial expected to last three weeks is moving along much faster than anyone anticipated, with the Judge telling the jury on Friday that they could get the case by Tuesday, July 19th.



The Defense began to present their case on Thursday afternoon, with Friday expected to be their first full day before Judge Richard Barron. But, the day ended before lunch, with the jury being excused for the weekend before 11:00 a.m.

The Defense began their day by calling some former investigator's who had written reports of their contact with prosecution witness Scott Hamilton from 2000, in an effort to discredit his testimony.

They also called a couple of friends of McGuffin's, who testified to having seen McGuffin the night his girlfriend, Leah Freeman, went missing. Questions centered on the timeline and his state of mind.

Margaret Buehner, who was also a friend of Leah's sister Denice, said she saw McGuffin often after Freeman went missing and he was obviously distraught. "He was just upset the whole time, I mean, he seemed concerned about his missing girlfriend."

Another Defense witness had no apparent connection with either the victim or the Defendant, other than the fact that he had at one time owned the Ford Mustang that McGuffin drove.

The prosecution had noted how the trunk appeared to be too clean, without even a liner. But Mark Perry, who owned the vehicle about 3 to 5 years earlier, said the trunk did not have a liner, spare tire, or tire jack, even when he owned it.

He did concede to District Attorney Paul Frasier, on cross-examination, that he did not know what the trunk looked like in 2000.

Late in the morning, the Defense re-called their own Forensic expert. Ken Meneely had testified that he found, through microscopic search, knife holes in Leah's clothes. Which is something that three different Prosecution witnesses had testified were not present.

That led to sharp question and answer session between Meneely and District Attorney Paul Frasier, where Meneely testified the he felt the Prosecution witnesses were wrong. To which Frasier replied, "all these people missed it and you're the only one that caught it?"

The day came to a sudden conclusion when the Defense requested more time to decide whether or not to call Nick McGuffin as a witness in his own defense.

Judge Barron was displeased that they had not already been prepared to make that decision, but Attorney Shaun McCrea argued that she had not been able to meet with her client last Sunday because the Jail refused to permit it. She also needed time to review new evidence, phone conversations that McGuffin has had while in jail, which the Prosecution intended to admit into evidence if McGuffin took the stand.

Barron seemed agitated by the delay, and particularly by the Jail's refusal to allow McCrea access to her client, but he reluctantly agreed to recess until Monday morning. Although, he wanted a decision by the end of the day on Friday about whether McGuffin would testify.

Late Friday, a decision was apparently reached. According to the Coos County District Attorney's Office, McGuffin has chosen not to testify. That increases the likelihood, but does not guarantee, that closing arguments could be made on Monday, July 18.

http://www.kcby.com/news/local/125670373.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Fri Jul 15, 2011 9:48 pm

Defense Calls On Forensic Scientist
July 15, 2011

By Sharon Ko

COQUILLE, Ore. -- Nicholas McGuffin's attorneys went through their set of witnesses fairly quickly Friday. One of the first to take the stand was the former owner of McGuffin's car.

Nicholas McGuffin's attorneys went through their set of witnesses fairly quickly Friday. One of the first to take the stand was the former owner of McGuffin's car.

"The trunk was empty when I had it," says Mark Perry.

Mark Perry's answer is an important one for the defense. Forensic scientists who examined the blue Mustang Perry owned and then sold to McGuffin, questioned why the trunk was empty.

They'd tested it for blood, fibers or any evidence but came up with nothing.

The defendant's car has been a key piece of evidence for the prosecution during the trial.

They are suggesting McGuffin used it to transport the body of his murdered girlfriend, Leah Freeman.

The defense also called its own forensic scientist. Ken Meneely says when he examined Leah's clothes and shoes he found cut marks in her tank top and sports bra.

Meneely says prior experts including the medical examiner, as well as a lab in England and another forensic scientist just didn't look closely enough.

"The question is, did doctor Olson get it wrong?" asked Fraiser.

"Apparently he did not see stab marks so it would equate to getting it wrong," say Meneely.

"So all these people missed and you're the only one that caught it?" asked Fraiser.

The judge excused the jury early for the day to talk to the prosecution and the defense about next week.

There's no word yet if McGuffin will testify. The judge says closing arguments could be done as early as next Tuesday.

http://kezi.com/news/local/218186

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by littlethings on Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:12 pm

Piper wrote:Hi ohiogirl - I'm an Ohio girl, too! Hello littlethings!

From what I've already read, it seems more likely than not to me that Nick McGuffin is fully responsible for Leah's murder. That's my opinion and it's very tragic that it's taken 10 years to come to trial. Has the passing of time made these witnesses more comfortable to tell what they know, I don't get the feeling they are lying. Shame on them for not coming forward years ago with what they knew. The original investigation appears to have been shoddy and slanted.

Hi Piper! I believe that McGuffin is responsible also. The defense has rested its case so it will soon be in the hands of the jury and I sure hope they do right by Leah Freeman. I am tired of murderers getting off because no one has video of them committing the crime.

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by FystyAngel on Mon Jul 18, 2011 4:02 pm

Leah Freeman murder trial
Both sides rest cases in McGuffin trial


Posted: Monday, July 18, 2011 10:25 am


Both prosecution and defense in the murder trial of Nick McGuffin rested their cases Monday morning.

McGuffin never testified in his own defense.

Read more in Tuesday's World.


Read more: http://theworldlink.com/news/local/article_692e38ca-b163-11e0-a361-001cc4c03286.html#ixzz1SUNsqiSd

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Piper on Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:25 am

I didn't think he would testify, they never do. I hope they don't have a prejudiced jury and that they take their time to make the right decision.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:28 pm

Nick McGuffin was found guilty of 1st degree manslaughter. He faces a minimum sentence of 10 years.

http://mgx.com/blogs/2011/07/19/people-vs-mcguffin-guilty-of-1st-degree-manslaughter
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Piper on Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:32 pm

~Snipped~
The jury could not reach a unanimous verdict, with ten in favor and two unconvinced, so had to settle on the lesser charge of manslaughter which requires a minimum of ten jurors to agree.


Finally some Justice for Leah afro
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by littlethings on Wed Jul 20, 2011 2:45 am

The jury decided quickly and rightly so! It was a job well done by investigators (the second time around) and the DA who brought closure to the case and hopefully a measure of peace to Leah's family after all these years. RIP Leah. afro

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Sat Aug 06, 2011 9:16 am

Manslaughter term: 10 years

Nicholas McGuffin insists at his Coos County sentencing that he’s not guilty of killing Leah Freeman

By Winston Ross
The Register-Guard
August 2, 2011

COQUILLE — A defiant Nicholas James McGuffin proclaimed his innocence on Monday and called witnesses who testified in his trial liars, just before a judge sentenced the 29-year-old to spend the next nine years of his life in prison for killing 15-year-old Leah Freeman in June 2000.

McGuffin received a 10-year sentence with credit for the time he has served since first being arrested last August.

McGuffin, who was convicted by a jury last month of first-degree manslaughter, said he would not stop fighting to prove his innocence, and then work to find whoever really killed the girl.


Read more: http://www.registerguard.com/web/updates/26644936-55/mcguffin-freeman-barron-mccrea-trial.html.csp

Didn't O.J. Simpson also say he was going to find the real killer? After what Nick did, he should be feeling very lucky that he only got 10 years.
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:27 pm

Judge Barron says 'no' to Nick McGuffin's new trial request

By Brie Thiele, KCBY News
Story Published: Sep 9, 2011 at 3:32 PM PDT

COQUILLE, ORE. - Judge Richard Barron says no to a new murder trial for Nick McGuffin, who was accused of recklessly causing the death of his girlfriend, Leah Freeman, back in 2000.

In July, a 12 person jury found McGuffin guilty of manslaughter for the death of Freeman, and now two months later, McGuffin's defense team is back in court for a hearing on their motion for a re-trial.

Shaun McCrea argues four points that, she contends, should lead to a re-trial, including the admittance of certain evidence, specifically his use of drugs and his sexual encounters with various women during the time freeman disappeared.


Read more: http://www.kcby.com/news/local/129559813.html
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by sitemama on Fri Sep 09, 2011 9:33 pm

Thank God for Judge Barron's decision. I'm still afraid he will get out in a few years, just like my daughter's killer did.

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Estee on Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:39 pm

his case is being done on the Investigation Discovery Channel...Didn't realize it til almost halfway through...Thank God the VEDOC Society got involved...It is more interesting to watch this than it is to read about it...
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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:18 pm

Nick's mother recently wrote a letter to the editor of The World newspaper. She wants Leah's case reopened and says she talked with psychic Sylvia Browne who gave her the initials of a possible suspect and described a pickup truck involved in Leah's homicide. She is upset that police haven't contacted Browne to discuss this information. Nick is lucky he only got sentenced to 10 years and I doubt that Sylvia Browne is going to help get him out any sooner. Here is a link to the letter.

http://theworldlink.com/news/opinion/mailbag/reopen-mcguffin-murder-case/article_eaf2248d-b23f-5037-b59a-6622ab4e6296.html

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Re: Leah Freeman murder comes to trial against all odds

Post by Justice4all on Wed Dec 18, 2013 8:31 pm

Appeals court upholds conviction in death of Leah Freeman

By News Staff Published: Dec 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM PST

OOS BAY, Ore. - An appeals court affirmed the 2011 manslaughter verdict against a man convicted of killing his girlfriend in 2000.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the conviction of Nicholas McGuffin conviction without issuing a formal opinion, according to R. Paul Frasier, Coos County district attorney.

McGuffin is serving a 10-year sentence in the death of Leah Freeman.

Read more: http://www.kval.com/news/local/Appeals-court-upholds-conviction-in-death-of-Leah-Freeman-236426231.html
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