More witness testimony requires judge's ruling in Blair trail

(BRECKENRIDGE TEXAN) -   

More objections to a witness’ testimony were raised Monday morning, Oct. 2, in the murder trial of Elton Carroll “E.C.” Blair.

The prosecution called Stacye Pinkston to the stand at about 10 a.m. Monday. She is the defendant’s niece, the daughter of his wife’s sister. She testified about her knowledge of a second phone Blair had that he had tried to keep a secret from his wife.

When District Attorney Dee Peavy started to ask Pinkston about a statement she had made to police on June 11, 2015, regarding Blair’s temperament, as well as things he had told her, defense attorney David Wimberley objected. The jury was removed from the courtroom, and District Judge Stephen Bristow heard both sides of the argument.

After reviewing the specific laws being cited by the prosecution and the defense, as well as detailed definitions of legal terms, and after consulting with the attorneys again about what their intended questions would be, the judge allowed the witness to testify in court without the jury present. He listened to her testimony and the direct and cross-examination, and he compared it to the transcript of her police interview. Then, the judge overruled the defense’s objection and ruled that the prosecution can continue with the line of questioning. However, he ordered a lunch break before the testimony continued.

Earlier in the morning, Cynthia Saunders, the defendant’s wife’s sister, testified in the trial which is being held in the Stephens County Courthouse on a change of venue. She, too, was questioned about her police interview on June 11, 2015, about two weeks after Leah Martin went missing in Graham. Martin’s body was discovered in a shallow grave in August of that year, and Blair is one of three men charged with her murder.

Saunders said that she had been aware of turmoil in the Blair household in the weeks leading up to Martin’s disappearance in May 2015. She also confirmed that in her statement to police, she described a conversation she had with Blair on June 6, 2015.

She testified that when he talked to her outside during a family get-together, he told her things weren’t looking for him in the investigation. She reported that he told her there were five suspects but that he was fixing things so his wife and daughter wouldn’t have to worry.

When Wimberley cross-examined Saunders, she testified that although she thought Blair’s statements were suspicious in 2015, after thinking about it for two years, she no longer feels that way. Under re-direct, she told Peavy that during the past two years she had talked to Blair, who told her he was innocent. However, she confirmed to Wimberley that she changed her mind on her own.

“In your heart of hearts, you decided he was innocent, didn’t you?” he asked, and she agreed.

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue Monday afternoon, with the prosecution planning to rest its case today.


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