Former detainee describes confession | News, Sports, Jobs

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A former inmate at Blair County Jail told a jury on Wednesday that fellow inmate Michael D. Copley demonstrated what happened to his wife, Catherine Copley, at the end of an argument that turned physical.

“I said, ‘Did you strangle her? “” James Richard Reed Jr. told the jury about a conversation he had in prison with Copley who responded with a demonstration.

With the jury seated to his left, Reed rose to the witness stand and put his forearm around his neck, mimicking what he said Michael Copley did to answer his question.

Reed then tilted his head back, as he said Michael Copley did to illustrate his wife’s stance until there was a pop.

An autopsy showed Catherine Copley’s hyoid bone at the top of her neck was shattered into two pieces, a medical examiner said on Tuesday.

District Attorney Pete Weeks and First Deputy District Attorney Nichole Smith offered the testimony of Reed on the third day of Copley’s jury trial on the homicide and related charges, as well as the testimony of two other witnesses who also told the jury about their conversations with Copley referring to his wife’s fate.

Prosecutors, who have called around 30 witnesses so far, are expected to call the remaining witnesses today and conclude their case.

Judge Wade A. Kagarise, who is presiding over the trial, informed jurors on Wednesday that he believed the case would be in their hands on Friday.

Altoona police charged Copley in October 2018 with homicide, aggravated assault, body abuse and related charges. The partially decomposed body of his 29-year-old wife was found on June 8, 2016 in a garage behind a vacant house on the 400 block of East Pleasant Valley Boulevard, about six months after she went missing.

Reed told the jury that Michael Copley also told him that he put his wife’s body in a garage and left, but then returned to put clothes on her. He said Copley made a point about “the prosecutor thinking she was going to catch a cold.”

When Catherine Copley’s body was found, she was wearing only a bra and poorly positioned blue jeans, witnesses said on Tuesday.

Defense lawyer Richard Corcoran explained to Reed the reason for his testimony. Corcoran pointed out to Reed that he made his statement to the Altoona Police about this conversation, after reaching out to an officer for help in revising his bail for pending track offenses. serious acts and drugs.

“After you made your declaration… there was an agreement to change your bond and release you” said Corcoran.

“Well, I spent two years in prison” Reed responded to explain why his bond had been changed. Reed also said his conversation with Copley had bothered him to the point that he couldn’t sleep, prompting him to seek the officer’s help.

Two additional witnesses also recalled their conversations with Copley about his late wife.

Amber Mobley of Altoona recalls being introduced to Michael Copley in 2018 before homicide charges were filed. She asked him: “Weren’t you the one who killed your girlfriend?”

She said Copley told her: “This bitch got what she deserved” meaning that she “sleeping with guys for drugs” specifically marijuana.

Previous accounts have established that Catherine Copley obtained marijuana in exchange for sex with a salesperson.

Tamara Watt of Altoona also recalled a conversation at a party hosted by Samantha Musselman, days after Catherine Copley disappeared.

“He said they would never find her,” Watt spoke of a comment by Michael Copley that Musselman agreed with.

Corcoran took issue with Watt’s testimony by asking her if she had recently told police in Altoona that Michael Copley had stabbed his wife 72 times. The autopsy results did not reveal any knife marks.

Weeks responded to this claim by asking Watt if Michael Copley told him he stabbed Catherine Copley 72 times. Watt said yes and admitted that she had no way of knowing if it was true.

Witnesses also said on Wednesday that Catherine Copley’s right shoe, located in the backyard of Dustin Salyards’ East End residence days after her disappearance, had been tested for DNA. The results showed that Michael Copley’s DNA was predominant on the shoe that the police investigation suggests was planted.

Corcoran suggested, during questioning, that because Michael Copley and Catherine Copley lived in the same household, his DNA would be on his shoe.

Forensic DNA specialist Julia Garofallo acknowledged this, in addition to showing that Michael Copley was a major contributor to the DNA found on the shoe and Catherine Copley was a minor contributor.

“I can’t tell you how or when this DNA got on the shoe” Garfallo testified. “I can only tell you he’s here.”

Prosecutors also asked James Wigley, an investigative analyst overseeing the Secret Service, to explain his analysis of data used to track cell phone locations, based on calls, texts and social media connections. .

Wigley said his research shows that a cell phone, which investigators believe was in the possession of Michael Copley, remained in the Altoona area on the night of December 10, 2015, when Catherine Copley went missing, and until in the early morning of December 11. , 2015.

Wigley said the data also showed the cell phone was in the area of ​​Copley’s residence at 319 Seventh Ave. and in the 400 block of East Pleasant Valley Boulevard where Catherine Copley’s body was discovered.

Weeks asked Wigley if the search offered evidence the cell phone was in the Bellwood area that night, as Michael Copley reported to police investigators. Wigley said no.

Because Wigley’s testimony began late Wednesday afternoon, Kagarise delayed cross-examination until this morning.

Mirror staff editor Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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