Both sides rest in Jones-Compher murder trial; verdict could be reached as early as Monday - East Idaho News
Crime Watch

Both sides rest in Jones-Compher murder trial; verdict could be reached as early as Monday

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POCATELLO — Brad Compher’s defense team rested its case Thursday, five hours after calling its first witness. The jury is expected to be given the case in the early afternoon Monday.

For five days, the State built the foundation of its case — which included 10 years’ worth of investigation. It presented to the jury how detectives went about collecting the hundreds of pieces of evidence, the chain of custody documents showing where that evidence went for 10 years and with whom, and how it was tested.

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On the sixth day of the trial, a pair of forensic experts, Cynthia Hall and Derek Cutler, told the jury about the DNA matches they discovered that linked Compher to the murder scene, Nori Jones’ body and, of course, the all-important ring. The state rested its case Thursday morning, and the defense called its first witness at 10:01 a.m.

Broken up by a one-hour lunch recess, the defense called seven witness — including former Pocatello police detective Michael Brennan being brought to the stand twice — before resting its case at 2:52 p.m. One of those witnesses, Robert Spillett, never appeared before the jury, as he informed the defense then the court that he intended to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights to silence.

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The defense’s case was to present an alternate suspect — Spillett.

Its evidence: Spillett’s infatuation with Jones. Also, a dream Spillett told detectives about, in which he saw the murder scene — though some of the physical descriptions he provided of the scene were incorrect — and a water heater on Jones’ property. The water heater, which landlord Kevin Coffin said was kept in a crawl space with no access to the interior of the home, was reportedly found to have graffiti on it nearly a year after the murder. The graffiti, as said in court, included Spillett’s name.

The most compelling evidence the defense presented, though, was testimony saying Compher had been at Jones’ home before she was murdered.

In police interviews, Compher insisted he had never been to the home. But Doug Coffin — brother of Jones’ landlord Kevin — said Compher had assisted him with some work in Jones’ yard. While there, Doug said, Compher went to the house to get some water.

Though it was never plainly stated in court, the defense may have been providing the jury with possible reasoning for Compher’s DNA being on the outside of the window which has been identified as the murderer’s entry point into the house.

This “touch DNA” was presented as the most likely match to Compher — with a one-in-93 trillion chance it came from another donor.

The State, after some consideration, decided not to call rebuttal witnesses.

COmpher day 6 Cutler
Cutler testifies to DNA findings as Compher and defense attorney Gary Proctor look on. | Kalama Hines,

After discussion between the State, defense and District Judge Javier Gabiola, it was decided that the jury would not be sent into deliberation until Monday. Gabiola’s concern was, asking the jury to deliberate for a matter of hours before being sent home for the weekend could present issues.

So, the plan that was agreed upon was for a busy Monday schedule.

When court reconvenes at 9 a.m. Monday, Gabiola will read the jury’s instructions into the record. Closing arguments from the State then defense will follow. The expectation is that the jury will be sent into deliberation in the early afternoon.

It is unclear when a verdict is expected. will be standing by during deliberation to report on the verdict as soon as it is reached.