PORT ALLEN — Testimony Wednesday in the murder-for-hire trial in the death of Corey Kitts focused on DNA evidence, with defense attorneys implying the person who killed Kitts might have been a lover rather than a hired gunman, and prosecutors suggesting crime scene investigators might have left their own minor traces of DNA on Kitts’ body.
Kitts’ wife, Monique O. Kitts, and Karl Michael Howard, 30, of Roswell, Georgia, are standing trial on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit second-degree murder in the slaying.
Prosecuting attorneys on Wednesday completed their case after spending seven days spinning a tale of sex, lies and murder, painting the owner of the All Aboard Daycare in Plaquemine as a greedy woman who hired Howard to kill her husband for a large payout from her husband’s employment benefits and life insurance.
And defense attorneys used the testimony of Yancy Guerin, chief investigator with the West Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office, to try to poke holes in the prosecution’s case by showing it is possible someone else could have been in the house with Kitts on the morning of July 9, 2010 — the day he was shot three times in the head.
Guerin testified Wednesday he had swabbed Kitts’ body for DNA, but the tests were conducted by someone else.
DNA from two individuals was found on Kitts’ body, Guerin said, with the murder victim being the “major contributor” along with DNA from an unidentified “minor contributor.”
“You have any idea who the minor contributor was,” attorney Allen Myles, Monique Kitts’ lawyer, asked Guerin.
“No,” Guerin replied.
“You see anyone at the crime scene that could be the minor contributor?”
“No,” Guerin answered.
But in his cross examination of Guerin, Assistant District Attorney Tony Clayton established that 26 people had worked the crime scene — an unusually high number by his and Guerin’s opinions.
Later, Clayton pointed out the analysis of the crime scene also showed that DNA from one of the investigators was found on a night stand next to Kitts’ bed.
Guerin then acknowledged he isn’t a DNA expert and he wasn’t “going to answer any questions regarding DNA.”
Attorney Tommy Thompson, Howard’s public defender, in his redirect asked Guerin if there was any proof in the DNA report that Kitts’ body had been contaminated.
“No. Just the night stand,” Guerin replied.
Clayton suggested the minor trace of DNA found on Kitts’ body could be Monique Kitts’ because she didn’t leave the house the morning of July 9, 2010, until approximately 7 a.m.
Prosecutors suspect Corey Kitts was murdered sometime between 8:37 a.m. and 9:26 a.m.
“We believe the defense is going to try and distract and divert the jury’s attention and we’re just going to keep bringing it right back to Monique Kitts,” Clayton said outside the courtroom during a break Wednesday. “When they try and take this jury down Never Never Land, we’re just going to take them right back to what took place on July 9, 2010.”
The prosecution on Wednesday also called to the stand accountant Jeff Aucoin, who had been asked by prosecutors to conduct an analysis on the Kittses’ financial records and Howard’s employment records.
Aucoin presented data showing that Monique Kitts had made cash withdrawals totaling more than $100,000 from her business accounts in the months leading up to her husband’s death.
Aucoin also showed that on at least five occasions when Monique Kitts made large cash withdrawals, Howard had taken paid time off from his job in Atlanta on the same day — presumably to meet with Monique Kitts in Baton Rouge.
“Can you show if one penny of that money went to Karl Michael Howard?” Myles asked Aucoin in his cross examination.
“No, because it’s cash, and cash doesn’t leave a paper trail,” he replied.
Myles later retorted, “You can’t prove when Karl Michael Howard got any money but you want to make this correlation between large amounts of money being drawn out and Karl Michael Howard being off from work!”
Before Aucoin was dismissed for the day, Clayton reminded the jury of earlier evidence involving cellphone data showing that Howard was in Baton Rouge, and near Kitts, at least one of the times when she made a large cash withdrawal.
“We believe the evidence shows that the money was being withdrawn and given to him as a down payment to take her husband out,” Clayton said.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.