After a jury was finalized Wednesday afternoon, the capital murder trial against Jeff McKelvey began Thursday.
McKelvey was charged for allegedly killing Denie and Pam Tucker in 2015 while robbing the couple’s home on Pea Ridge Road near Asbury.
The prosecution, led by Marshall County District Attorney Everett Johnson and Chief Assistant District Attorney Ed Kellett, and McKelvey’s defense, led by attorneys Kevin Hanson and Brian White, began the trial with opening statements Thursday morning. Judge Tim Riley is presiding over the case. During opening statements, the defense asked jurors to keep an open mind throughout the entire process, hear both sides and let the evidence decide the case.
The first witness to testify was Scott Tucker, the victims’ son. Tucker was the first to find his parents’ bodies. Tucker spoke about how he and his parents were supposed to attend a football game that Friday night. He said he knew something was wrong when he didn’t hear from them. That’s when he decided to go check on them. The defense chose not to cross-examine Tucker.
The second to testify was Asbury Volunteer Fire Chief Brian Baker. He was a first responder called to the Tuckers home. Baker knew the victims from his time working on their farm. He lived about five minutes away from the Tuckers. There was a brief cross-examination by the defense, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Thursday’s final witness was the Tuckers’ house cleaner, Stephanie Baker.
A fingerprint found on the front, glass door of the Tuckers’ home led police to McKelvey in 2015. The District Attorney’s Office said the prosecution asked Baker how often she cleaned the door, and Baker was adamant in saying she cleaned both sides of the glass each Thursday. Because McKelvey’s fingerprint was found, the District Attorney’s Office pointed out that the murders must have happened later that evening. The defense chose not to cross-examine Baker.
Corey Brown, who was the case’s lead investigator at the time, testified Friday. Brown is now an investigator at the State Fire Marshal’s office.
Henry Pyle, an associate of McKelvey who plead guilty earlier and is now serving a life sentence, is expected to testify as a key witness next week, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The District Attorney’s Office anticipates the trial lasting up to another two weeks. It is the first murder trial in Marshall County since 2012.