BERRYVILLE — Homicide suspect Michael Ivory Curry’s trial continued Tuesday despite his efforts to get a mistrial.
“Your honor, I just feel like I need new counsel,” Curry told Judge Alexander R. Iden.
Curry is being represented by Winchester attorney Gregory W. Bowman, who was court-appointed to the case.
Bowman, a lawyer since 1989, offered to quit the case, but Iden rejected the request. He noted that when asked on Monday before the trial began, Curry said he was satisfied with Bowman, whose work has included defending people in federal drug cases.
“The court remains confident in his abilities,” Iden told Curry, who has been charged with first-degree murder and faces 40 years to life if convicted. “We are in the middle of a trial and we shall proceed.”
Curry, 33, of Summit Point, W.Va., is one of three men charged in the killing of William Todd Anderson during a March 26, 2017, drug robbery at Anderson’s home. William Edward Freeman, 27, of Berryville, and Blake Anthony Munk, 33, of Baltimore, haven’t stood trial. Also awaiting trial is 43-year-old Berryville resident William Scott Smallwood, who faces burglary and robbery charges and is expected to testify in the Curry trial.
Curry is accused of hitting Anderson in the head with an assault rifle after Anderson refused to divulge the combination to a safe in his bedroom that contained marijuana. Despite bleeding profusely from his head, witness Olivia Franklin Bowers testified on Monday that Anderson didn’t want to be hospitalized. Franklin Bowers, who was living with Anderson, was in the home during the robbery. Anderson, a 38-year-old father and master electrician who grew up in Bluemont, died a few hours later in his home.
Attorneys usually speak to judges for their clients, but a frustrated Curry spoke on a few occasions directly to Iden after being given permission to approach the bench with Bowman. He complained about police chain-of-custody procedures and unsuccessfully sought to have photos of two glass jars in Anderson’s home that weren’t seized by police suppressed from the jury.
Iden rejected the request, noting he had denied Bowman’s motion to suppress the photos before the trial. The significance of the jars was unclear. Special Agent Heather Marshall of the Virginia State Police, the lead forensic evidence collector at the crime scene, told Bowman the jars were not collected because they weren’t believed to be drug-related evidence.
Tuesday’s hearing also included testimony from Sgt. Patricia Putnam of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigator on the case. Putnam’s testimony included three key statements:
Curry’s DNA and fingerprints were not found on guns, marijuana and other evidence police seized a few hours after the killing from an apartment in Bunker Hill, W.Va.
A jailhouse informant who implicated Curry secretly recorded conversations with Curry at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center for police.
Anderson, a heroin addict who had done heroin shortly before being slain, was a police informant.
The latter detail could be used by Bowman to try to convince the jury that the risky business of being a drug informant could’ve led to Anderson being killed by someone other than Curry. Bowman also sought to discredit some of the 10 to 15 people who Putnam said she interviewed regarding the case.
“Some folks who you interviewed gave conflicting info. Some flat out lied to you,” he said during cross examination of Putnam. “Is that fair to say?”
Putnam said it was true.
Bowman also suggested to Putnam that the marijuana seized by police from the Bunker Hill apartment might not have been the same pot stolen from Anderson. He noted the Humboldt Patient Resource Center, an online marijuana dispensary in California where medical and recreational marijuana use is legal, sends marijuana to West Virginia. Medical marijuana is legal in West Virginia.
Curry’s trial continues today.