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February 08, 2006

Skipping the gore -- classmates testify

It's 2 p.m. and Jeff Terronez says the next witness, state police crime scene tech Tom Merchie, will be the last the day. I decide to bag it -- I've already heard all the talk I want about burned bodies, body parts and protruding bones.

It's 2 p.m. and Jeff Terronez says the next witness, state police crime scene tech Tom Merchie, will be the last the day. I decide to bag it -- I've already head all the talk I want about burned bodies, body parts and protruding bones.

R.I. police Lt. Tim Steines testified this morning. He's the guy who was physically lowered into the manhole at Black Hawk State Park, tied a canine's leash around a black garbage bag containing portions of Adrianne Reynolds. He's also the guy who went to the Mercer County farm belonging to Sarah Kolb's grandparents and, held by other officers, reached under the limbs of an uprooted tree into a muddy hole and pulled out other portions of Adrianne.

I glanced at the jurors from time to time as he talked graphically about what he did and found. Could discern no particular emotion in any of them, though one stared for a long while at Kolb as he listened. So far as I could tell she didn't notice. Her back is to the gallery, and it's rare to see even the side of her face. Dressed in a blue sweater and blue jeans, she's seemingly paying close attention to the proceedings, frequently making notes on the legal pad in front of her. She had several hushed convesations with Dave Hoffman, who's sitting next to her at the table, between her and Baron Heintz, Hoffman's second-chair guy.

Couple of the jurors had said during pre-selection questioning that they could listen to graphic testimony but would be uneasy about looking at pictures.
Terronez assured them they wouldn't have to. He didn't enter crime scene photos at the first Kolb trial and won't this time. Right call, I think. The cold, hard words are enough.

More in 30 minutes or so...

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The first three Terronez called -- Stephen Fonesca, Kassi Van Vooren and Sara Harlow -- all attended school with Adrianne and Sarah at the Black Hawk Outreach Center in East Moline.

Foneseca said he met Adrianne around Christmas time in 2004, and worked with her at the Checkers in E.M. She was "really friendly" and you "could definitely tell that she was trying to make friends." He said he saw Sarah around school but didn't know her -- she was in the Outreach School's high school completion program while he and Adrianne were in the GED program, which meets in separate classrooms. Hoffman in particular questioned each of three about which program they were in.

Kassi said she quickly became friends with Adrianne after the latter enrolled in the school in fall, 2004. She also knew Sarah, and when Sarah and Adrianne each expressed an interest in the other, she introduced them. The two had a "good" relationship for a time, passing letters to each other and talking in the hallway at school.

She said the friendship deteriorated after a New Year's party in Rock Island, to which Sara had taken Adrienne. Adrianne disappeared for a time, and when she returned answered Sarah's question about where she'd been by saying, "I met two of your friends and f---ked them." (no dashes in the courtroom. The words are used,.)

Kassi said she later heard Sarah call Adrianne a "whore." Sarah said she was "disappointed" with Adrianne and wanted her to "back off." But, Kassi said, Adrianne did not back off, but continued writing letters to Sarah and calling her. She said she saw the letters, but did not know Sarah's reaction to them.

Sarah did say once that she "would like to kill" Adrianne, Kassi said.

At the tale end of direct questioning, Terronez asked if Kassi knew Cory Gregory (who's also charged in the murder and will be tried later). She said she did know him, and that "almost every time I saw them (Cory and Sarah), they were together."

Hoffman used cross-examination to establish that some of what Kassi said happened in early January, 2005, had happened in December 2004, according to her testimony in the first trial. Kassi also said that Cory and Sean McKittrick, another schoolmate, were present when Sarah said she wished she could kill Adrianne.

On re-cross, Terronez established that Kassi had first talked with police in April, 2005, rather than October, 2005, as she had said while Hoffman was questioning her. "You obviously have a problem remembering dates," he said.

The third schoolmate to testify, Sara Harlow, said she knew Sarah, Cory and Sean, as well as Nate Gaudet, who pleaded guilty to juvenile charges of concealing a homicide for his part in the case. He will tesify later. Harlow said she didn't know Adrianne, but had "heard of her." She said she was present when someone passed Sarah a note from Adrianne. Sarah said that Adrianne was continuing to write letters and that it "bothered her."

Harlow said Sarah referred to Adrianne as a "whore" and a "slut" and said the didn't want to be around here anymore. Sarah said Adrianne was upset, and said in the letters she realized she must change her ways. But Sarah wanted nothing to do with Adrianne and wouldn't answer her calls or letters, Harlow said.

Harlow also said that she would have "annoyed" if subjected to similar unwanted attention.

----more to come ---

Posted by jcb at February 8, 2006 04:51 PM

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