Arguments began in murder trial in Tioga County

Jury selected and opening arguments began on Thursday in Douglas Every murder trialPictured, 62-year old Douglas Every is on trial for Second Degree murder and Evidence Tampering for the alleged murder of 39-year-old Milton Jump, who resided with him at his Thorn Hollow Road residence in the Town of Tioga, Tioga County. (File Photo)
Jury selected and opening arguments began on Thursday in Douglas Every murder trial

Pictured, 62-year old Douglas Every, who was age 62 in this photo, is on trial for Second Degree murder and Evidence Tampering for the alleged murder of 39-year-old Milton Jump, who resided with him at his Thorn Hollow Road residence in the Town of Tioga, Tioga County. (File Photo)

There was a packed courthouse Friday morning as community and family members filed into the Tioga County Courthouse to hear testimony in the second degree murder trial involving 63-year-old Douglas Every of the Town of Tioga, Tioga County, N.Y. Douglas Every is on trial for the alleged murder of 39-year old Milton Jump, who was discovered deceased from a knife wound to his chest on the kitchen floor in Douglas Every’s home on the evening of Oct. 23, 2013.

After two long days of a 12-member and 4-alternate jury selection, the prosecution was able to begin presenting their evidence on Friday, Nov. 15, 2014 in a case that involves charges against the defendant, Douglas Every, of Second Degree Murder and Tampering with evidence.

In opening arguments that began late on Thursday afternoon the District Attorney, Kirk Martin, described how Douglas Every intentionally killed Milton Jump, by stabbing him in his heart and splitting it in two.

The defense, Attorney George Awad, stated the act was self-defense, and that it is the burden of the district attorney to prove otherwise.

The district attorney’s statement, on Friday, was corroborated by Tioga County Corner Warren (Stu) Bennett, a military veteran that has worked in the criminal and forensic field since 1966, served as an officer in Susquehanna County and Montrose, Pa., served the Tioga County Sheriff’s office in the early seventies, and following education became involved in forensics.

Bennett has served as County Coroner for six years, and retained his seat in the recent race for c in Tioga County for another term.

In this case Bennett cited, under sworn statement, the death was deemed a homicide. He based this on his observations of Milton Jump’s deceased body; a determination that was concluded in conjunction with Lourdes Hospital’s autopsy performed by James Terzian, MD and pathologist.

Bennett described, to the jury, that at approximately 1 or 2 a.m. on Oct. 24, just hours after the alleged crime occurred, he entered the Thorn Hollow Road home through the laundry room and discovered a white, male body lying deceased on the kitchen floor and near the refrigerator.

Bennett described that the victim, Milton Jump, was only wearing his pants as the Emergency Medical Squad, who arrived earlier, cut his clothes and shirt off to assess the fatal wound.

Bennett stated on the stand, “There were no weapons laying near the body – just the bloody shirt and t-shirt.”

During this testimony, graphic photos of the wounds taken during the investigation were shown to the jury. The body, Bennett added, was later bagged up and delivered for the autopsy. He also noted the time of death as 8:07 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2013, although he was not called onto the scene until after the midnight hour.

According to Bennett’s testimony, [the defense attorney, George Awad, objected to these statements made by Bennett because they could be considered hearsay, but Attorney Awad’s request was swiftly overruled by Tioga County Judge Gerald Keene, and the testimony was allowed to continue.] Bennett testified that Milton Jump most likely bled to death from the approximate four and a half inch wound inflicted by a knife, and that the time of death was considered 8:07 p.m., which was the time that the 911 call arrived from the defendant.

Bennett added that the knife cut through the right ventricle of Milton Jump’s heart and was midline on the sternum, was at an angle, and was slightly to the right.

The evidence tampering charge was also rendered after a follow-up investigation of the crime scene revealed two knives, one which was bloody and 8-inchs in length, that were found nearby in the sink with a sponge that contained additional evidence.

But the evidence submitted to the jury on Friday left the defendant, who sat next to his attorney, unemotional, and looking downward until the photos of Milton Jump, who was dead on the kitchen floor, were delivered by the prosecution on a large projected screen in an effort to reconstruct the crime scene for the jury.

At that point, Douglas Every, who had previously been involved in a relationship with the victim, appeared uneasy and emotional.

Bennett, while on the stand, also talked of the crime scene, and noted that blood was visible leading from the door to the kitchen and back.

The defense, on the other hand, provided evidence of blood stains in various areas of the home, and also presented photos of alcohol on the counter and mentioned that the court would later hear testimony from a witness, James Atwell, who moved into Douglas Every’s home temporarily, as Milton Jump and Atwell were initially displaced from the flood, and their time had run out with the FEMA trailer they were residing in together. Milton Jump was taking care of Atwell.

Although James Atwell, the defense explained, has suffered from several strokes that left him confined to a wheelchair, his mind was unaffected and that he will serve as a witness for the defense. Atwell was at the scene on the night of the alleged crime, Oct. 23, 2013.

The defense also argued the timeline of events.

According to witness testimony on Friday, law enforcement was notified first, the Emergency Medical Squad was notified, an investigation of the crime scene ensued, and then the coroner was called to the scene.  The defense attorney questioned this timeline.

Because the coroner did not arrive until after midnight, Attorney George Awad inquired about how the determination of the time of death was derived.

Bennett stated that the time of the 911 call was considered the time of death. It was noted that EMS worker Scott Johnson arrived at the scene by 8:23 p.m.

Attorney Awad, in a self-defense claim, also asked for evidence to be entered into the court of photos of Douglas Every after his intake on Oct. 23, 2013 that revealed a possible injury above his eye, and an injury to his knee.

Tioga County’s First Sergeant Frank Lavore testified earlier in the day on Friday as well as Tioga County Sheriff Shawn Nalepa, an 18-year member of the force.

But it was Tioga County Sheriff Adam Bessey, who investigated the alleged crime scene that provided insight into what may have happened at Douglas Every’s Thorn Hollow Home on Oct. 23, 2013.

According to Bessey, photographs were taken of the blood that was found in several areas of the home, and secured evidence from the home that was sealed, and then presented to the jury on Friday.

One of the pieces of evidence was a bloody knife that had a blade that was approximately 8-inches in length, and about an inch or more wide.

Other photos presented as evidence was the crime scene at the time of the investigator’s arrival, in which Milton Jump’s lifeless body remained on the kitchen floor.

On Friday, Bessey carefully opened the sealed evidence for viewing by the jury. Other evidence presented include swabs from some of the blood found in the home, and the sponge found in the kitchen sink with the knives that the lab had removed evidentiary portions from.

More testimony is expected to take place at the Tioga County Courthouse on Monday, Nov. 17 at 9:30 a.m. The Trial is expected to last one week, according to the court.

If Douglas Every is found guilty of Murder in the second degree, he could face a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. If the jury lessens the crime to Manslaughter 1, the defendant could face a sentence no longer than 25 years.

Manslaughter, as described by the law, demonstrates the intent to cause serious injury, and by doing that, causes death.