Crime

At trial, expert disputes Meridian man’s story that his father died from ladder fall

Trails of blood found in three rooms in Otis Conner’s home and in the garage where the 87-year-old man’s body was found do not add up to a death caused by some sort of tumble from a ladder, a blood analysis expert testified Wednesday.

“Those would not be consistent with a naturally occurring incident,” said Tom Bevel, a former Oklahoma City police officer with 37 years of experience as a blood pattern analyst. “It was consistent with a homicide.”

Otis Conner died Jan. 2, 2013 in the house he shared with his son, Anthony W. Conner. The younger Conner called police to say he came home and found his father dead next to a ladder, which was underneath an open entry point to the attic.

At first, authorities believed there was nothing suspicious. But a detective with the Meridian Police Department who investigates unattended deaths concluded that Anthony Conner’s story did not square with evidence found at the scene. Anthony Conner, 61, was later charged with murder. His trial is in its second week.

Prosecutors say Anthony Conner killed his father to cover up his theft of $3,100 from the elder Conner. Anthony Conner is accused of forging a check from his father’s account and cashing it on the day of the killing.

Bevel testified that Otis Conner was struck three times by what appeared to be the claw end of a hammer, twice in the home and once in the garage.

Earlier Wednesday, Stacy Guess, a DNA expert with the Idaho State Police, testified that blood found on the claw portion of a hammer found at the house came from Otis Conner.

Otis Conner’s body was dragged through the living room, kitchen and laundry room of the house, over two concrete steps leading into the garage and onto the garage floor, Bevel said. Blood trails showed the body was repositioned at least three times inside the garage, he said.

“It was consistent with staging of the victim to make it appear that he fell from a ladder,” Bevel said.

Inside the house, a blood spot was found on the living room ceiling. It could have ended up there only after the hammer was swung back and blood flew from it, Bevel said.

Blood was also found on a living room chair that set on top of a throw rug. Blood stains appeared on the carpet underneath the rug and on the subflooring. The blood stains on the carpet had a round shape that matched the brush pattern on a carpet cleaner found in the house, Bevel said.

Blood was also found inside a floor heating vent and in the carpet underneath the metal register that covered the vent.

Bevel also pointed to finger patterns on Otis Conner’s face. The direction of the fingers were opposite what they would have been had Conner grabbed his own face after he was struck. “This is more consistent with another person grabbing the head with bloody hands,” Bevel said.

A jury of nine women and five men is hearing the case in 4th District Court in Boise. The trial is expected to last about four weeks.

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