Prosecutors Press Judge To Allow Autopsy Photos In Michael Bever Murder Trial
TULSA, Oklahoma - Prosecutors in the Michael Bever murder trial filed a motion Friday morning asking the judge to reconsider her ruling that no autopsy photos be shown to jurors in the case.
Michael Bever has pleaded not guilty to five counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his mother, father, two brothers and one sister. He has also entered a not guilty plea in one count of assault with intent to kill for wounding another sister.
From the questions the defense has been posing to witnesses, it is clear they plan to argue that Michael Bever was not the one who did the stabbings, that it was his older brother Robert. Robert pleaded guilty to the deaths in 2016.
Robert Bever received five consecutive life sentences without parole in each of the five counts of first-degree murder. In the crime of assault with intent to kill, he received an additional consecutive life sentence.
Michael Bever's defense attorneys asked the crime scene investigator, for example, isn't it true that Robert Bever was splattered with blood but Michael just had smears of blood on him when they were arrested. Evidence shows Robert's white, bullet-proof vest was coated in blood, and there was blood on his face and arms as well.
They asked if the blood on Michael could be attributed to the K9 bite on his shoulder that happened when the boys were taken into custody. They also asked about the blood splatter in the home, and wouldn't you expect someone who took part in the murders to be bloodier than Michael was.
Michael Bever, they argue, was not bloody enough to have been fully involved in the crimes.
Prosecutors say based on the questioning by Michael Bever's attorneys, the judge needs to reconsider her ruling about the autopsy photos. They say they need the autopsy photos to show the jury more information about the nature of the wounds - how deep and long they were and what direction they came from.
Jurors have so far been shown one photo of each of the five dead, lying where their bodies were discovered. In those photos, the victims are clothed and covered in blood, so prosecutors say it is difficult to see the actual wounds.
A crime scene investigator testified Friday about dozens of pieces of evidence collected from the scene. She talked about recovering the bloody T-shirt and short Michael Bever was wearing at the time of his arrest. She also told the jury about the items she found inside the bedroom shared by Michael and his brother Robert.
Those items included an atlas of the U.S., a hatchet, a hard black mask, two sets of hard knee and shin guards, Kevlar gloves, Kevlar knitted sleeves, Kevlar neck protection and a knit, full-faced mask.
She also talked about the boxes addressed to Robert Bever from body armor stores. The witness said DNA swabs were taken from both Michael and Robert and all the victims. Swabs of the victims' fingernails were also collected.
There's been some testimony some items of evidence are missing and some were not sealed properly, so there was great attention paid to each item Friday about how it was collected and sealed properly.
Court resumes on Monday.