(DETROIT) — An ex-girlfriend of Jeffrey Pyne, the former high school valedictorian accused of killing his mother in their family’s garage, testified in court that his mom was dangerous, delusional and would often assault her son.
Pyne, 22, a former star athlete and University of Michigan biology student, is accused of killing his mentally ill mother, Ruth Pyne, 51, who was beaten and stabbed 16 times in the family’s Highland Township, Mich., garage in May 2011.
Holly Freeman, Jeffrey Pyne’s former girlfriend, told jurors Monday that Ruth Pyne was off her medication. “She believed her medication was sorcery and witchcraft, and therefore evil,” Freeman said in court. “She had been storing knives in the headboard of her bed. She watched the religious channel, walked around with the Bible.”
Prosecutors say Jeffrey Pyne was fueled by pent up rage after years of abuse at the hands of his mother, who spent time in jail for assaulting him in 2010. Charges were dropped when she was treated at a hospital and promised to stay on her medication.
Another element of the case against Pyne arose during Freeman’s testimony. Blisters were discovered on Jeffrey Pyne’s hands after his mother’s death, captured in photos that jurors have seen over and over again.
Pyne maintains that he got the blisters throwing a wooden storage pallet at his job on a local farm. Freeman testified Monday that she had her doubts.
“I said, ‘That doesn’t look like a pallet would do that,'” she said.
Freeman also spoke of her ex-boyfriend’s fear for his now 12-year-old sister’s being left alone in the house with his mother, a fear she says that she shared with him.
“It was no longer safe for her to be in that house, especially alone,” Freeman said. “I did not think it was a good idea for Julia [his sister] to ever be left alone with Ruth in the house.”
Defense attorneys say Jeffrey Pyne was not involved in any way with his mother’s death, claiming a stranger or strangers likely attacked Ruth Pyne.
It is still unclear whether Jeffrey Pyne will take the stand during his trial. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Jim Acosta, Dana Bash and Tal Kopan, CNN
Jackie Wattles, CNN