AP NEWS

Murder trial starts with testimony about footprints

December 15, 2018

KINGMAN — Footprints left at a murder scene were the focal point of opening testimony Wednesday in the trial of Buddy O’Brian Wallace, who is charged with stabbing 70-year-old Charles John McCarty of Yucca to death in 2015.

Sgt. Mike Ramirez of Mohave County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a homicide in the 11200 block of Bennie Road in Yucca on Oct. 12, 2015, and was able to follow the footprints from Alvis Road to the back door of McCarty’s residence, which was a travel trailer.

Ramirez said he arrived at the scene around noon and interviewed Don Guthrie, a witness who came into contact with Wallace the previous day on Alvis Road and directed him to McCarty’s home.

Prosecuting attorney Rod Albright showed close-up pictures of the footprints, and Ramirez described a circle mark in the sole of the shoe and markings around the heel. The heels left deeper imprints in the desert soil, indicating they were probably made by cowboy boots.

“We started where the tire tracks and footprints came together (on Alvis),” Ramirez said. “You can see they stopped and the tracks turned around where the car would be.”

Those same footprints were found at the location where McCarty’s 1997 Dodge pickup truck had been abandoned near some railroad tracks.

Sgt. Carlos Rooks, assigned to the Sheriff’s office detective division at the time, said it appeared from the footprints that the person had taken off his boots and walked barefoot into the paved streets of Yucca.

Following the tracks, detectives came across more evidence, including an ashtray and cigarette butts and smashed soda can, and Rooks said he found a left boot in nearby shrubbery.

Sgt. Lester Tarnowski of Mohave County Sheriff’s Office also testified about picking up a trail from an empty lot and through a wash between McCarty’s residence and the Chrysler Proving Grounds. He found shoeprints consistent with those found by Ramirez on Bennie Road.

“They were pretty easy tracks to track,” Tarnowski said. “I believe they were cowboy boots. There were no other tracks in the area.”

Defense attorney Brad Rideout asked Tarnowski how far the tracks were from the victim’s house, and whether he had circled the house looking for more tracks. Tarnowski answered he had not.

Rideout also noted a police report of a “contaminated” scene, including tire tracks and cigarette butts from neighbors who drove to the scene, as well as vehicles from Yucca Fire Department.

Albright showed pictures of McCarty slumped over a table in the travel trailer, an oxygen hose still attached to his nose.

Sgt. Ramirez said McCarty, known to neighbors as “Veteran John,” had knife wounds to the upper torso and left side of his face, and there was blood splattered on the walls, ceiling and refrigerator. There was no sign of forced entry, the detective said.

“To me, it seemed like not much of a disturbance, not a whole lot of stuff knocked around,” Ramirez said. McCarty had a rifle behind a door, but he would have had to walk about 10 feet to get it, the officer added.

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, each with a different definition, Wallace faces one count of intent to commit burglary, and one count of theft of transportation.

His trial is expected to continue into next week, with Mohave County Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert presiding