By RODNEY HART
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
MEXICO, Mo. — Emotions were on display during the first day of the Calvin Duane Pettey murder trial inside the Audrain County Courthouse Monday.
Petty is accused of shooting Sandy Fugate to death inside her Hannibal residence in April 2010 just two days before they were to be married. After six men and six women were seated as jurors, Marion County Prosecutor Tom Redington put on eight witnesses in the afternoon. Most were police who first responded and investigated the murder.
However, one was Fugate's mother, Mary Patterson, who emotionally described finding her daughter facedown on the floor around noon on April 15, 2010. She left the courtroom in tears but composed herself to watch the rest of the afternoon session with about 10 other family members.
Patterson said Pettey called her shortly before and asked her to check on Fugate, because she wasn't answering his phone.
While Redington showed graphic crime scene photos to the jury on a large screen, Pettey, his back to the audience in the courtroom, took a quick look and quickly grimaced, closed his eyes and dropped his head. Investigators said Fugate was shot four times, including several times in the head.
Former Hannibal Police Detective Seth McBride testified that Pettey initially told him he went to a doctor's appointment the day Fugate was found dead. Fugate didn't go with Pettey, McBride said, because she had to stay home and take care "of some issues with the tuxedos" as the wedding loomed in two days.
But in a later interview, McBride said Pettey admitted he went to Columbia with his girlfriend, Rebecca Kirk of Frankford. Kirk is expected to offer her testimony Tuesday as outlined by Redington during his opening remarks to the jury.
Pettey at first denied having a sexual relationship with Kirk, McBride said, but later admitted the two were romantically involved. McBride said at one point, he asked if Pettey could get "extreme" for the love of Kirk, and Pettey replied, "Yes."
When asked if he did get extreme, Pettey simply bowed his head, McBride said. He had the same reaction when told by McBride that other detectives were interviewing Kirk about the murder.
McBride also testified about threatening letters found by Fugate's family members nine days after she was killed. Redington said Kirk will testify that Pettey made her write the letters to scare Fugate and postpone the wedding.
McBride read one of the letters, which said: "You won't make it to your wedding day. Your day is coming, you just don't know when or where it's going to happen."
On one occasion, Kirk held up a rifle since Pettey wanted her to shoot him to make the murder scene look like a robbery, but her hand shook so bad she couldn't hold the rifle steady, Redington said.
After Fugate was found dead, Kirk was asked by Pettey to throw a gun and bullets in a river, Redington said, and police later recovered the items.
Defense attorney Todd Schulze told jurors the murder trial was a case of "plausible deniability" and told jurors to pay careful attention to the evidence, and that Kirk had motive.
"All the evidence flows toward somebody named Becky Kirk," Schulze said.
The trial, moved to Audrain County on a change of venue, is expected to last three or four days.
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