Defense witnesses testify that accused Meridian murderer had loving relationship with his dad

Anthony W. Conner waited a day before notifying one of his brothers of their father’s death and even then did not inform him directly, the brother testified Wednesday.

Doug Conner said he received either an email or a text message at his job from his brother telling him that his father, 87-year-old Otis Conner, had died the day before after reportedly falling from a ladder in the garage of the home that Anthony and Otis Conner shared.

“The first conversation I had with him about Dad’s death was when I showed up at his doorstep,” Doug Conner testified in the third week of Anthony Conner’s trial.

On cross-examination, Doug Conner said he did not have a personal phone at the time.

Prosecutors say Anthony Conner, 61, was facing numerous unpaid bills when he used the claw end of a hammer to strike his father three times in the head Jan. 2, 2013, the same day he cashed a $3,100 check from his father’s checking account by forging his father’s signature.

Defense lawyers say Anthony Conner arrived home after running errands and eating dinner with friends to find his father dead on the floor of the garage.

On Wednesday, Doug Conner said he and another brother, Randy Conner, told Meridian police detectives that their father’s death seemed suspicious. He told police that while Anthony and Otis once had a close relationship, it seemed to have changed and conversations between the two men “seemed short.” He said his father, who once gave Anthony money to make a house payment, expressed concerns about Anthony’s finances and said he didn’t want to give him any additional money.

Randy Conner testified that he was suspicious as they drove from the funeral home after seeing their dad’s body. Anthony, he said, seemed preoccupied with getting a death certificate issued and getting their father’s belongings out of his house as soon as possible. They hadn’t even had time to grieve, Randy Conner said.

“We would have helped him (with gathering up the belongings), but give us a couple of days,” Randy Conner said.

In beginning their case, defense attorneys questioned several co-workers, friends and neighbors of Anthony and Otis Conner. The witnesses said the two men had a loving relationship and they didn’t hear any cross words between them.

“I firmly believe there was a lot of love between them,” said Earl McCamic, who lived next door to Anthony and Otis Conner for many years in the 3000 block of North Turnberry Way.

Earl’s wife, Mary Anne McCamic, a retired nurse, testified that she saw Otis Conner fall several times in his front yard.

“His balance was really bad,” she said. “He would fall, get up and brush himself off like it was no big deal.”

The defense maintains that Otis Conner had trouble with his equilibrium and that he could have easily fallen off the ladder found next to him in the garage and died accidentally. Prosecutors say Anthony Conner staged the scene.

Jed Mooney, a friend of Anthony Conner for more than 20 years, said he did not believe Conner killed his father. He said Anthony Conner was proud of his father. It appeared to him, Mooney said, that Meridian police officers were convinced from the beginning that he was guilty and ignored the possibility that Otis Conner may have died from an accident.

“Of all of my friends, he’s the least likely to commit this kind of violence,” Mooney said.

Fourth District Judge Richard Greenwood told the jury of nine women and five men that he expects the evidence portion of the trial could end by Monday.