Murder trial: Was absence of evidence actually evidence?

Murder trial: Was absence of evidence actually evidence?
Leah Freeman

COQUILLE, Ore. - A retired Oregon State Police criminologist testified Wednesday that while investigating Leah Freeman's murder more than a decade ago, she found nothing in the trunk of Nick McGuffin's car - and that struck her as strange.

"Not a thing, nothing," asaid Kathy Wilcox. "No spare tire, no trunk liner. I remember when I opened it, I was going like, 'Wow there's just nothing.'"

Prosecutors are trying McGuffin for Freeman's murder in 2000.

Both prosecutors and the defense admit there is not physical evidence tying McGuffin to his high school girlfriend's murder. But prosecutors have called a series of witnesses who have described McGuffin's behavior and comments after Freeman's disappearance.

Wilcox testified that there was no blood found in the trunk of McGuffin's care.

Under cross examination, the defense asked if blood would still be detectable had someone hosed out the trunk. Wilcox said it could be.

Four other witnesses gave testimony Wednesday before Judge Richard Barron and a packed courtroom.

Kristen Young testified to hearing Wayne McGuffin and his brother Nick joke about police finding Freeman's shoe.

"Wayne looked at his brother and addressed him and the room that, 'Oh they won't find anything from that shoe, it was put there to make them think she was there,' " Young said.

"How did the defendant respond to that comment?" the prosecutor asked.

"He nodded his head in agreement, acknowledged his statement and laughed about it," Young said.

Defense attorney Shaun McCrea questioned that story.

"During the grand jury, you didn't say anything at all about Mr. McGuffin laughing or nodding in agreement," McCrea asked.

"Yes."

"You did not say that?" McCrea pressed.

"No."

The prosecution expected to rest it's case Wednesday night. The defense is expected to call its first witness on Thursday.