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Kirby murder trial begins

Morning Journal/Deanne Johnson Defense attorneys (from left) Paul Conn and James Wise speak with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steve Yacovone Tuesday morning outside the house where Melinda Todd was murdered in 2012.

LISBON — After a delay of nearly a week, the Common Pleas Court jury trial of Kevin Kirby, charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the death of Melinda Todd, began Tuesday morning.

After Judge Megan Bickerton welcomed the jury back, which was seated last week, she then sent them on a jury view. They traveled by limo to the home at the intersection of state Route 45 and Salmar Drive where Todd was bludgeoned to death and her 5-year-old grandson, Cole Reed was severely injured on Dec. 3, 2012. Jurors were also driven past Adele’s Place Inc., a nearby restaurant, where one witness reportedly went on the day of the murder.

During opening arguments Chief Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart noted investigators determined Todd was struck no less than 10 times with a hammer in the face and head.

“Cole Reed was lying in a pool of his own blood with two hammer holes punched into the side of his head,” Weikart said.

Prosecutor’s believe Todd, who had a prescription allowing her to get 70 oxycontin pain pills at a time, would sell some of them from time to time. Todd also drank sometimes at the Night Court Bar, which was located in Lisbon near the courthouse in 2012.

It was also a bar frequented by Kirby, who Weikart said gave Todd a ride to her home on Dec. 1 in exchange for oxycontin and $10.

“Two days later she was dead,” Weikart said. “She had no way of knowing he was a spiraling drug addict.”

Weikart described texts from Kirby’s phone where he was talking about his need for drugs and money, getting more and more desperate to get the drugs he needed to keep from being dope sick.

At one point, Weikart said Kirby described being backed into a corner and told a family member “There’s only one way to fix this, somebody is going to have a bad day.”

Weikart also pointed out the FBI analyzed the cell phone tower just south of Todd’s home, which also pointed out to jurors when they went out to view the house. Those records reportedly show Kirby’s phone was used twice on Dec. 3 in the vicinity of that tower shortly after noon and after the last time Todd used her cell phone.

Witnesses reportedly saw a green SUV linked to Kirby in Todd’s driveway in the days leading up to the murder.

One of them was Barbara Milson, Reed’s other biological grandmother, testified she had dropped the child off on Sunday, Dec. 2 at Todd’s house where he lived. The child was sick with a cough and congestion and she stayed to talk to Todd about his condition and that he may need to go to the doctor the next day.

What she described as a green Jeep with temporary tags was in the driveway and a man Milson had not seen before was at the home. Milson testified he looked her “dead in the eye” just once and then ignored her for 30 to 40 minutes while she was there talking to Todd, never joining in the conversation. She described him as young, in his 30’s, with a close cut beard, wearing a tank top and with numerous tattoos on his arms and chest.

Among evidence Weikart talked about was a pill bottle with a cap from Morgan’s Drug Store found in Kirby’s vehicle after the murder. It was the same drug store where Todd had filled three prescriptions on Dec. 1, one of which was missing from the home after the murder, and a drug store Kirby had not used for himself in several years.

Additionally, Weikart said Todd’s DNA was found when investigators swabbed a small, rust colored spot in Kirby’s vehicle.

James Wise, one of Kirby’s two defense attorneys, said he agrees the murder of Todd was horrific, but he does not agree that investigators have found the right person responsible. Wise pointed to circumstantial evidence.

Additionally, he said Reed, who is now 14-years-old, gave different stories and suggested a small child’s memory or knowledge of something can be manipulated.

Wise also pointed out that investigators want to contend that Kirby was desperate for drugs and an alcoholic, yet they believe he nearly “committed the perfect crime.”

“Mr. Kirby always wears a watch and they tested his watch,” Wise said, noting there was no DNA found on it. “They go through his car, his house, his clothes, nothing is found with Melinda Todd’s blood on it.”

Kirby is charged with two counts of aggravated murder regarding Todd, one of which indicates he killed her while attempting to rob her. Additionally, he is charged with attempted murder for the injuries to Reed and tampering with evidence. He faces up to 15 years to life for each of the aggravated murder charges alone.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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