GILMER — The lead investigator in an Upshur County murder case retracted statements he made on the witness stand Thursday during a trial for an Ore City woman accused of killing her husband.
Investigator David Cruce had testified that he had evidence directly indicating that Sharon Maxwell pulled the trigger of the gun that killed her husband Gordon on Aug. 30, 2011, at the couple’s home in Ore City.
“She said she killed him,” Cruce testified.
Videotaped statements of Maxwell never showed her admitting to shooting her husband.
Maxwell said in one of the videotaped statements that she heard gunfire in the bedroom and went in to find her 19-year-old son, James Potter, standing to the right of the bed in which her husband lay dead. An autopsy showed Gordon Maxwell died of four gunshot wounds to his head. Maxwell admitted to dragging her husband’s body from the bed, putting it in a truck and pouring gasoline on his body. His body was found in the burning vehicle.
Her attorney, Matthew Patton, questioned Cruce asking in which statement or report it is documented that she made a confession. Cruce could not identify any documentation of a confession in court.
“Had she made a confession, would that be important?” Patton asked.
“Yes,” Cruce responded.
Patton further asked if it would have been important to document a confession, and Cruce responded that it would. Patton asked again if Maxwell had stated that she killed her husband.
“She never specifically said, ‘I killed Gordon Maxwell,’” Cruce responded.
So Patton asked again if Cruce had any direct evidence that Maxwell pulled the trigger, and Cruce replied that he did not.
In cross-examining Cruce, Patton questioned the way the investigation was handled and documentation. Multiple investigators testifying during the first two days of the trial said when they first arrived at the crime scene on Aug. 30, 2011, they did not know who was in charge. Cruce was put in charge two days after Gordon Maxwell’s murder.
When asked whether anyone had searched Potter’s room for evidence, Cruce said they had, but when asked if he knew whether anyone had searched for blood on Potter’s clothes, he said he didn’t know. He also could not identify which investigator had searched Potter’s room.
Cruce also testified he did not talk to blood spatter expert Dan Reigstad about his findings. Reigstad testified in court Tuesday that he identified a point of origin for blood stains found on Maxwell’s bedroom walls to have originated from the bed. Most likely, Reigstad testified, the person who shot Maxwell would have been kneeling on the bed to his right, with a pistol most likely pointed at his head. Reigstad said it was possible a shooter could have stood to the right of the bed and gotten the same blood spatter.
“You didn’t ever ask him what his opinion was?” Patton asked.
Cruce testified he did not discuss it with Reigstad and said he had never reviewed Reigstad’s report, though he had finished the investigation.
Cruce also testified that Reigstad did not sign in or out of a crime log taken at the home on Aug. 30, 2011. Crime logs are supposed to document who leaves or enters a crime scene.
Patton asked if it was possible other people could have come to or left the crime scene without logging in or out, and Cruce testified that it was possible.
Cruce also could not answer questions about what types of equipment were used to investigate the home and what types of tests were done, such as checking for fingerprints. He also said a gun residue test was not performed on either Sharon Maxwell or James Potter, though investigators took statements from both of them on Aug. 30.
Cruce also admitted that many things were not documented in his reports, such as noting who had searched Potter’s room or whether the room had even been searched. He also admitted to lying to James Potter and telling him that his mother had admitted to killing Gordon Maxwell to get a reaction from him to try to help determine whether Potter was guilty.
Cruce testified he did not believe Potter had killed Gordon Maxwell.
Other testimony Thursday included one of Sharon Maxwell’s prior husbands (Gordon Maxwell was her 10th husband), who said she divorced him twice though there seemed to him to be nothing wrong with their marriage.
Keith Davis and Billy Harmon, who each worked with Gordon Maxwell at U.S. Steel, testified they had noticed a change in his behavior starting about two weeks before he was killed. Davis testified that Maxwell began sleeping on breaks, which he had previously never done, and Harmon testified that Maxwell seemed “depressed.”
Harmon also testified that Maxwell had talked to him about some problems in his marriage and testified that Gordon had considered divorcing Sharon.
Harmon also testified that Gordon Maxwell had told him that his wife was good at using a gun.
Maxwell, who was also a preacher, was conflicted about divorce and had religious friends who advised him against it, Harmon testified.
“My advice to him was that he shouldn’t listen to his religious buddies and stay in something that could cut his life short,” Harmon testified. He said Gordon Maxwell shed tears at the thought of divorce because “he wanted his marriage to work.”
Maxwell’s trial continues today in 115th District Court. District Attorney Billy Byrd has more witnesses to present.