The Glenn Hughes murder trial got underway last Thursday with the jury being sworn in at 10am. After about 20 minutes of jury instructions read by the Honorable Ann Moorman, presiding, Deputy DA Matthew Hubley began the prosecution by playing the chilling 911 CD recording that defense attorney Carly Dolan had tried earlier in the week to get suppressed, arguing the emotional impact of the recording outweighed any probative value it might have.
DDA Hubley said the probative value of the recording was intrinsic to his case and Judge Moorman ruled to allow it. The recording begins with a woman's voice, the desperate voice of a frantic woman trying at one and the same time to pull a guy off her boyfriend and tell the dispatcher where all the mayhem the dispatcher was hearing was coming from.
It was coming from the Hidden Pines campground south of Fort Bragg and the time was about 1:15am on the 31st of December, 2011. Glen Hughes, the caller said, was beating Jose Madrid, and beating and beating Jose and wouldn't stop and she couldn't make him stop.
The jury seemed stunned as the appalling brutality, complete with the sickening sounds of fists on flesh, came over the speakers. Shannon Wilson was screaming, sometimes profanely, at Hughes to get him to stop. Ms. Wilson took a serious mauling herself trying to protect the unresisting Madrid.
The recording was played again when Mr. Hubley called his first witness, Shannon Wilson. She identified the voices in the recording as her own and Mr. Hughes's. The voice she identified as belonging to Hughes says, “You will never, ever — EVER — leave me behind again,” punctuating his words with thudding punches to Madrid. Ms. Wilson said, at one of the many gruesome recorded sounds, that Hughes was on his knees hitting Madrid with his fists. She maintained that the first kick to his head had knocked Joe Madrid out, but the defense seems to think Madrid may have already been dead by the time Hughes commenced beating on him.
Ms. Dolan, in her opening statements, asked the jury to keep an open mind, and on cross-examination of Ms. Wilson, it became apparent that defense was going to suggest that Hughes had been thumping on a corpse.
Ms. Dolan asked Ms. Wilson, “Do you remember how long it was after you went to bed that Joe Madrid entered the tent?”
“I can only guess,” Wilson answered. “It was probably a half-hour to 45 minutes.”
“And was he wearing a coat?”
“Yes,” Wilson said.
“Did he take it off?”
“No,” Wilson said. “He went to sleep as soon as he laid down.”
“And how long was it before you heard Mr. Hughes coming towards the tent screaming?”
“It was not long,” Wilson said. “Only 15 or 20 minutes.”
“And the screaming did not wake Joe?”
“No,” Wilson said.
“Did you try to wake him?”
“To warn him?”
“And you had to crawl over him to see out the door?”
“Partially, yes,” Wilson said. (Ms. Wilson and the late Madrid were tent camping.)
“And when Hughes gets there he pulls Joe out by the collar?”
“No, by the shoulders,” Wilson corrected.
“And he doesn't wake up?”
“Yes,” Wilson agreed.
Ms. Dolan had no more questions at that time for the witness, but she had indicated in her opening remarks that the two expert witnesses, the county medical examiner and an independent medical expert from San Francisco scheduled to testify next week, had both agreed that the blows to the head had not been the cause of death.
Prosecution called most of the law enforcement witnesses on Thursday, and through the iCop video the jury saw the situation just as the police had when they arrived, with Ms. Wilson leaning over Madrid and Hughes walking away. The video played approximately 20 minutes with most of it showing the officers as they worked to revive Madrid with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Then the paramedics arrived and confirmed that Madrid was dead.
The trial resumed on Monday with the medical examiner and other expert witnesses from the Department of Justice in Eureka scheduled to testify. Depending on how many witnesses defense calls the trial should end by Wednesday or Thursday this week.
Most of last week, Tuesday and Wednesday, had been taken up in jury selection, which is an instructive process in itself. It was curious, for instance, to see how few people have ever heard of this case. One juror turned out to be the publisher of the Willits News, a Ms. Clark, and her ignorance of this terrible event was so thorough that she survived the selection process which usually sifts out news people. Nor were there any reporters from any of the other local papers present, not even the Fort Bragg paper, which might have at least had a passing interest in a murder at a campground only a mile or so from their town.
Another development occurred Thursday when Ms. Dolan cross-examined the lead investigator, Detective Dustin Lorenzo. Prosecution had maintained that Shannon Wilson heard Mr. Hughes coming when he walked back from the Welcome Inn in Fort Bragg, and that Hughes was yelling, “Where is that motherfucker, I'm going to kill him.” Ms. Wilson had testified that she'd heard the angry pedestrian making his belligerent way to the tent she shared with the doomed Madrid. But the defense, Ms. Dolan, had found an inconsistency.
She asked Detective Lorenzo if he had interviewed Ms. Wilson.
“Yes, at the Fort Bragg substation.”
“And this was a little over an hour after the incident?”
“Yes, that sounds about right.”
“Did she smell strongly of alcohol?”
“And do you recall her saying she didn't remember what Hughes was yelling when he came walking back to the campground?”
“I don't recall her saying that.”
“But since this was a homicide investigation, you would have remembered her saying that she heard Mr. Hughes yelling 'I'm going to kill that motherfucker,' wouldn't you?”
“Yes, I would have remembered that.”
At this second mention of incest, the case recessed for the weekend.
Pedestrian Case Continues…
The Glenn Hughes murder trial resumed Monday morning at 9:30, with County Medical Examiner Dr. Jason Trent called to testify an hour before the lunch recess. And despite the gruesome testimony from Trent's slab at the mortuary, everyone galloped off for a hearty lunch, returning fortified to view the rest of the bloody pictures and listen to the gruesome testimony until mid-afternoon.
Dr. Trent finally conceded, after a rigorous cross-examination by Ms. Dolan, that he couldn't “actually” and “finally” say how the admittedly “superficial” injuries to the decedent's head had resulted in his death.
Defense attorney Dolan was trying to pin Trent down on the cause of death — and you must understand that Dr. Trent, in his late 70s, has been on the stand more times than Ms. Dolan has been in court. But she did a sweet job of it in the end; the slippery old pathologist admitted “it was a most unusual death.”
Tomorrow (Tuesday), Dolan will call her own expert medical witness, a Dr. Haddix. She's trying to prove that Madrid was already dead when Hughes attacked him.
Also on Monday, Kay Belshner, from the Department of Justice in Eureka, appeared with the toxology reports. She established to everyone's satisfaction that both the accused and the deceased were equally drunk, both at 0.22-plus, a remarkable if not astounding state of inebriation, she said, in which “most of us could hardly even stand.”
At 2:15. Ms. Belshner stepped down, and the prosecution rested. After a brief recess, Defense put Glenn Hughes, the defendant himself, on the stand.
The day had started with a video of the interview with Mr. Hughes at the substation interrogation room in Fort Bragg two to three hours after the “incident” — otherwise described by the prosecution as Murder One. Hughes told the cops that night that he didn't even know “these people,” these people being the man he's accused of beating to death and that man's girlfriend who also took a beating trying to pull Hughes off Madrid. But Ms. Wilson and the late Mr. Madrid had been living as Hughes' closest neighbors, and indeed seem to have become his close and perhaps only friends for several months in a mostly empty campground outside Fort Bragg.
So, Hughes had some 'splaining to do. There he is on tape the night of the “incident” saying he didn't even know “these people,” and here he was on the stand claiming he was so drunk he couldn't remember anything. “I was too drunk, I don't remember anything, anything, anything at all.”
In fact. Mr. Glenn Hughes's entire time on the stand was a testament to amnesia. “Total blackout,” he said. “Sorry.”
He stepped down early, and the next defense witness, Dr. Haddix, is promised for Tuesday morning. Stay tuned.