DAY TWO: Seven-year-old witness takes stand
PORTSMOUTH — The only eyewitness to the killings of a Franklin Furnace family took the witness stand on the second day of the Kara Garvin murder trial.
On Dec. 22, 2008, Ed Mollett, his wife, Juanita Mollett, and their daughter, Christina Mollett, were shot to death at the older Molletts’ trailer on Snook Road.
Garvin, also of Franklin Furnace, has been charged in the murders and could face the death penalty if convicted.
The couple’s grandson was at the trailer at the time of the shootings and later ran to a neighbor for help. Tuesday afternoon that child testified that Garvin was the sole shooter that night.
“They shot my papaw, my mamaw and sissie,” the child told the courtroom. “I was on the love seat. Kara came in, bust down the door and had a vest on. It was camouflage with guns and knives.”
The boy said he had been sitting on a sofa in the trailer next to his aunt, Christina Mollett, when the shooting began and that the aunt had shielded him from the fire.
“She jumped on top of me,” he said.
The young boy, now almost 8, dressed in a white shirt, slacks and a dark vest, spoke in an audible voice, looking out at the jurors and the gallery.
On cross-examination, Charles Knight, one of Garvin’s co-counsel, went through details of the murder night.
“They came in,” the child said.
“They?” Knight asked.
“She came in and shot my papaw, my mamaw and then sissie,” he said.
After shooting Ed Mollett, the boy said that Garvin took pills from the dead man and poured them into her hand, putting the gun under her arm. Garvin then took Mollett’s wallet from his body.
“She took his money out,” he said. “The gun was on the floor.”
The child was on the witness stand for less than 20 minutes and was accompanied by a member of the prosecutor’s office.
The boy testified at the start of the afternoon session that began with the testimony of Scioto County Sheriff’s detective Matt Spencer. Spencer was the lead investigator in the Mollett murders.
Under cross examination from Knight, Spencer testified that hours after the shootings, Garvin and her then boyfriend, Paul Balmer, were persons of interest in the crime.
Around midnight of that night, Garvin went to the sheriff’s office for questionings with a cousin who is an attorney. She was later arrested.
Balmer was tracked via a cell phone in North Carolina, then in Florida, where Scioto County investigators interviewed him before bringing him back to Portsmouth. Balmer was arrested in Florida on a drug trafficking warrant. He is currently serving a prison sentence for the attempted murder of Daniel Mollett, the nephew and cousin of the murder victims.
Garvin was also indicted on charges of attempted murder involving other members of the Mollett family.
Scioto investigators also interviewed Ray Rodriguez of the Florida area and his girlfriend, Audrey Moody, at the same time.
During Spencer’s testimony Knight produced a subpoena by investigators of the prosecutor’s office seeking cell phone records of Rodriguez for October, November and December 2008, two months prior to the murders and the month the murders were committed.
Spencer said he was unaware of the subpoena.
After the grandson’s testimony forensic pathologist Dr. Kent Harshbarger of the Montgomery County coroner’s office went on the witness stand to detail the autopsies done on the three victims.
Ed Mollett died from a single gunshot to the head that entered at his right ear and lodged in the back of the head. Items retrieved from his clothing at the coroner’s office included four prescription pill bottles with oxycodone and another tranquilizer in them.
Two of the bottles were prescriptions for Juanita Mollett; the other two did not have labels.
There were also 59 one-dollar bills in a pocket in Mollett’s clothing and a pill cutter.
Juanita Mollett died from a single gunshot that entered her right side.
“It entered the back of the right arm, entered the chest below the collar bone and then through the aorta,” Harshbarger said.
Christina Mollett died from two gunshots — one to the head and one to the left flank.
All three had either alcohol, hydrocodone, oxycodone or marijuana in their systems at the time of their deaths.
Prosecutors are expected to call Balmer and James Damron, the neighbor who placed the 911 call, later this week.