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Ongoing coverage: The Trial of Christopher Wilson
WENATCHEE — Jurors in the murder trial of Christopher Scott Wilson may view a video file shot inside his former apartment, hear the criminal history of a defense witness, and hear pieces of four recorded phone calls Wilson made from jail.
Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges ruled largely in favor of the prosecution Tuesday in pretrial motions over evidence. Among other motions, Chelan County Prosecutor Gary Riesen won permission to show the iPhone video, taken by Wilson’s friend Tessa Schuyleman, showing the interior of the apartment where police say Wilson murdered Mackenzie Cowell in 2010.
The jury may also see photos of Schuyleman, accused of abetting Wilson after the murder but never charged, which authorities say were taken by Wilson and show her posing as a corpse in the apartment, either on or very near a carpet stain purportedly left by Cowell’s blood.
Police say DNA recovered from that stain was matched to Cowell, 17, who was found dead Feb. 13, 2010. Wilson is accused of murdering Cowell in his former apartment at 118 Okanogan Ave.
Wilson’s lawyers John Henry Browne and Emma Scanlan had sought to suppress the criminal history of Elizabeth Ann Reid, a former police informant who claimed Cowell was murdered by two men other than Wilson. Instead, Bridges said he’ll allow Riesen to present the past convictions of Reid, who police say changed her story multiple times and proved unreliable.
Reid’s past offenses include obtaining drugs by prescription fraud and forgery.
“Her credibility is key to the whole thing,” Bridges said. “… We’ve got this long, continued course of conduct with this woman lying.”
Wilson’s calls with his mother Kathleen Zornes in late 2010 will also be admitted. Although Wilson does not admit guilt on the recorded calls, Riesen says such statements as “I can’t talk about any of the details, whether I am (guilty) or not,” show “guilty knowledge” of the case.
Bridges’s rulings knocked back several defense motions, after he earlier this month ruled against Riesen as he tried to admit evidence and testimony concerning motive in the crime. Riesen cannot introduce an incident in which a woman claimed Wilson choked her, testimony about Wilson’s work history or evidence of his Hannibal Lecter arm tattoo — by which Riesen hoped to show Wilson was inclined to commit murder due to obsessions with death and serial murder.
Browne noted that the video Bridges allowed today shows Wilson in short sleeves, which may disclose the tattoo to the jury.
Attorneys also agreed to excuse 20 potential jurors from their pool of 73, citing their responses to a questionnaire. The form, crafted by Scanlan, asked about prior exposure to the case through the media. One other juror was excused due to hardship, another due to a pending vacation.
Browne has said he may ask for a change of venue if he feels an impartial jury cannot be seated in Chelan County.
“I’m for the first time in my long career very concerned that we may not be able to do this case here,” he told Bridges. “… But I trust jurors when they say, ‘I can be fair despite this.’”
Bridges said depending on the course of jury selection, scheduled to recommence at 1:30 p.m., a second jury pool may be called today.
Jefferson Robbins: 664-7123