DAY THREE: Garvin placed at scene of triple murder

Published 10:24 am Thursday, March 4, 2010

PORTSMOUTH — The one-time boyfriend of Kara Garvin put the young woman at the scene of the fatal shootings in testimony given during the third day of the Garvin murder trial in Scioto County Common Pleas Court.

Garvin, 30, of Franklin Furnace, is charged in the shooting deaths of Ed Mollett, his wife, Juanita Mollett, and their daughter, Christina, at the older couple’s trailer on Snook Road, Franklin Furnace, on Dec. 22, 2008.

Garvin faces 18 counts including aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

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Paul Balmer testified to the events of the day of the murder Wednesday afternoon in the courtroom of Common Pleas Judge Howard H. Harcha III.

Garvin had moved in with Balmer, 49, after the suicide death of his wife, about three months before the murders.

Both Garvin and Balmer sold Oxycontin, and were heavy users of the prescription medication, often buying off of Ed Mollett, Balmer testified.

The couple were frequent visitors to the Mollett trailer.

“We always dealt back and forth. We pretty much dealt in drugs,” he testified.

Currently Balmer is serving a 17-year prison sentence for attempted murder of another member of the Mollett family. He received that sentence for his testimony in this trial. Garvin also faces charges of attempted murder for another member of the Mollett family.

Often the couple would go to Mollett to buy drugs for their own use during frequent trips to Florida.

The evening of the murder Balmer drove the couple to the Mollett trailer where he stayed in the car, while Kara met Ed Mollett outside his home.

“We were going to go to Ed’s for drugs for the road,” Balmer told the jury.

“Ed talked to Kara and went into the trailer. In five, ten minutes she came back out and threw something on the seat of the car.”

Balmer said that later he discovered that the item was a wallet.

Garvin went back in for a few minutes more, then came out of the home and got into the car.

“Kara said, ‘let’s go,’ ” Balmer said.

They went to a motel in Greenup, Ky., where they did drugs, he said.

Balmer’s account differs in some respects with the one given by the only eye witness to the crime, the then 6-year-old grandson of the Molletts.

On Tuesday the child identified Garvin by name as the sole shooter and said the woman broke in the door to the trailer as she entered.

On cross examination by defense lawyer, Charles Knight, Balmer was asked if he saw Garvin kick the door in, he first said he did not. The second time asked, he said he did not see the door.

At the time of the visit to the Molletts, Garvin had what Balmer called “dirty blonde hair.” She later dyed her hair black while at the Greenup motel.

While at the motel Garvin received a phone call from a family member saying that the Scioto County sheriff’s office wanted to talk with her about the murders. She went to the sheriff with a cousin, Rick Nash, who is also an attorney. She was later arrested.

Balmer told the courtroom that the first time he learned there was a murder was when Garvin called him from the sheriff’s office. Balmer was also wanted for questioning by authorities and told them he would come in. However, he went to Florida, where he was arrested and brought back to Scioto County.

“She said ‘I’m not coming back. They are charging me with murder,’” Balmer said. “I asked, ‘Who?’ She never answered.”

It was then that Balmer disposed of guns reportedly belonging to Garvin as well as clothing, near the motel. He later took authorities to those locations where they retrieved clothing and three guns.

“I didn’t want the guns with me. I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. I left. I got scared and left.”

Earlier that day the jury heard about three hours worth of the DVD recording of Garvin’s appearance with Nash at the sheriff’s office in the early morning hours of Dec. 23.

In it are exchanges between Garvin, Nash, Capt David Hall, Detective Arthur Triggs and Detective Paul Blaine.

Triggs asks her about her whereabouts that day; however, Nash advises her not to answer questions. By this time authorities have told Garvin that she will be arrested for murder. At that point Triggs leaves the interview room and the conversations between Nash and Garvin are recorded. The video and audio of those exchanges were played for the jury.

Parts of the conversations are difficult to understand because of Garvin’s crying.

“I didn’t do it. I don’t want to go to jail,” Garvin says. “I’m so frightened. … How long will we be here?”

“It could be a very long time,” Nash says.

“Why can’t I answer any questions,” she asks. “Won’t it make me look guilty if I don’t say anything.”

“No,” Nash says.

She begs Nash to contact Balmer to tell him what is happening.

“Just let him know so he won’t worry,” she said. “I don’t understand why they are arresting me. If I could talk to them, it could make it better.”

Later after her cousin leaves, Garvin talks with Capt. Hall. Hall tells her she is being arrested because of evidence and witness accounts.

“We don’t think this is your brainstorm,” Hall tells her. “We don’t think you went with the intention of hurting anyone. …It just went bad and things happened real fast. I don’t think you meant to kill anybody.

“I didn’t,” she replies.

More forensic witnesses are expected to testify next for the state.