Mark Sievers trial: State rests its case: Day 7

The murder trial for Mark Sievers continued Monday morning after the court had been on a break since Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mark Sievers is accused of orchestrating the murder of his wife, Doctor Teresa Sievers.

His accomplices, Curtis Wright and Jimmy Rodgers have already been convicted of Second Degree Murder.

Rodgers will be sentenced December 12 and Wright will be sentenced in February.

‘He could come over here and kill me’

As prosecutors rested their case in the murder of Dr. Teresa Sievers on Monday afternoon, we are learning more about what neighbors said happened on the night she was murdered and the days before the arrest of her husband, Mark Sievers.

WINK News introduced you to neighbors like Donetta Contreras. As we found out, she is not the only one who had suspicions about the defendant after that gruesome night in their Bonita Springs neighborhood.

Contreras remembers that night clearly.

“And my dogs started going crazy,” Contreras said. “So after about 15 minutes of them barking,” Contreras opened the front door to see what was causing the commotion. “As soon as I opened it up, I heard a scream,” she adds. “Just like a child screaming, like really, really. Like it was hurt.”

But nothing looked wrong and there were no more sounds. So Contreras fell back asleep and found out the next morning what had happened that fateful night. When she did, Contreras had “chills all over.”

“There’s nothing that’s not going to convince me that what I heard the night before wasn’t her,” she said.

Contreras said the sound from the Sievers’ house traveled. One time she knew the married couple was in a fight three or four months before the death because their argument could be heard “loudly” at her home.

But once she knew her neighbor had been hacked to death with the claw end of a hammer over a dozen times, Contreras said in her mind, she knew who had done the act. The next day, the defendant got down “on his hands and knees” crying, “beating the pavement” because of his heartbreak.

“It was very bad acting,” Contreras said.

Contreras’ daughter, who lives next door to the Sievers’, had a similar thought.

“The very first thing that went through my mind,” Kimberly Torres said, was “he killed his
wife and kids.”

The kids are safe. They were not in the home during the time of the incident. But both women said life got strange and a bit scary for them from that day until Mark Sievers was arrested months later.

Torres said Mark Sievers had been lurking around her house for years, sometimes right at her front window. But it got worse after the murder and she initially thought it was due to her interviews with the media.

“Who knows,” she said. “He was crazy enough to do that to his wife. He could come over
here and kill me.”

Contreras told WINK that she saw Mark Sievers’ temper herself when she was at a Walgreens. She found out later that the defendant was there.

“That a prescription was not ready for one of his children,” Contreras said. “And he ranted and he cussed and raved all through the store.”

There was also another incident that continues to frighten her when Contreras was picking up her grandchildren from school. She saw Mark Sievers in front of her vehicle and “had realized” that it was her car behind him. The defendant spent around two minutes at a stop sign with no traffic.

“Then, when he did start to go, he went very slow,” she said. “Probably not even 5 miles an hour. This continued three roads, where he’d stop, act like he was going to turn. “I’m like angry. A little nervous. Why is he doing this?”

Contreras says it was an act of intimidation.

“He was intimidating everyone in the neighborhood actually,” she said.

But her mind, like her daughter’s, is made up.

“I knew what he was capable of when he played his card game with me with my
grandchildren in the car,” she said.


WATCH DAY 7 TESTIMONY FROM THE COURTROOM

WARNING: This video may include graphic content that may be disturbing to some viewers.  NOTE: During a court recess, you will see a state of Florida seal.


Witness #31: Linda Otterstatter, FBI Physical Scientist, Analyst in Forensics Unit (Quantico, Virginia)

The state called its first witness of the day: an FBI trace evidence forensic examiner. Otterstatter also testified during the Jimmy Rodgers trial where she examined fibers collected during the investigation.

She began by walking the jury through a PowerPoint presentation about how she examines and analyzes trace evidence like hair and fibers.

Otterstatter analyzed fibers collected from the Hyundai Elantra prosecutors say Curtis Wayne Wright and Jimmy Rodgers drove down to Florida. She also examined fibers collected from Dr. Teresa Sievers’ dress and body.

She testified that the fibers collected from the car and on Teresa’s body were similar in characteristics and properties as the fibers from the blue coverall found on the side of the road in Missouri.

Additionally, the fibers matched those collected from the Sievers’ kitchen floor, according to Otterstatter’s analysis.

During cross-examination, Sievers’ attorney asked if she examined fibers from any other jumpsuits. She said she analyzed just the one found on the side of the road and that she only received one pair to examine.

The Defense also asked if Otterstatter would see a difference in fibers that were left outside in the elements for about a month. She responded, “Maybe, maybe not.”


Witness #32: Sherri Fentress, Biologist/Forensic Examiner, DNA Case Work Unit, FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia

Fentress is another FBI forensic examiner. She examined hair collected during the investigation.

She compared a hair found on the jumpsuit found on the side of the road in Missouri to a DNA swab from Rodgers. She said she could not exclude Rodgers as being a source of that hair. Fentress said that means the hair could belong to Rodgers or one of his maternal relatives.

More questions from the Defense: Fentress said a hammer was not submitted for DNA testing. A black backpack was submitted, but she did not test it.

She also said Teresa’s DNA was excluded from samples collected from the rental car.

After Fentress’ testimony wrapped up, the court took a brief recess before calling the next witness.


Witness #33: Taylor Shomaker, Jimmy Rodgers’ ex-girlfriend

Shomaker has previously testified that Rodgers confessed to her that he killed Teresa with a hammer.

She begins by tying together some of the evidence jurors have already seen like the red Budweiser t-shit and the white cooler. Shomaker says Rodgers was wearing the shirt and toting the cooler when he returned from Florida.

Shomaker then testified that she saw “The gloves, the hammer and shoes” in the white cooler. She also said Rodgers threw away shoes, destroyed his phone and asked her to throw the pieces out of the window of their car while she was driving.

Additionally, she also said Rodgers asked her to throw his blue jumpsuit out the window on another drive.

When Shomaker began to describe the conversation she had with Rodgers after throwing out the jumpsuit and the phone for him, Sievers’ attorney objected, but it was overruled.

Shomaker continued, saying she asked Rodgers if he killed Teresa with a gun. He said they killed her with a hammer. She says he showed no remorse when telling her this.

She also testified that Rodgers was expected to get about $10,000 for the murder of Teresa. In the last trial, she testified Rodgers expected to get that money through Mark Sievers. This time, that didn’t come up.

There were some interesting points in Defense’s cross-examination. Shomaker said the hammer she saw was a ball-peen hammer, going against what Curtis Wayne Wright testified. He said Jimmy joked he hit Teresa with the claw of the hammer.

Shomaker also testified she thought Mark Sievers was “kind of a pervert.”

Sievers’ attorney asked Shomaker if anyone else called Rodgers “Jimmy the Hammer.” She said not that she knew of.

The Defense pointed out payments of $400 per month from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office to Shomaker over the last four years. She also testified that she remembered being threatened by police during the investigation and that she feared losing her kids if she didn’t cooperate.

With that, testimony from Shomaker came to an end. The court will be in recess for lunch until 1:20 p.m.

With the jury out of the room, attorneys discussed with Judge Kyle about Defense asking that Shomaker be retained. She flew in from out of town to testify and the State said the Defense would need to provide hotel and childcare should they decide to keep her.

After some back and forth, they came to the decision to let Shomaker return home.

On another topic, the Defense and the State both waived sequestration of jurors for the guilt phase.

The State has five more witnesses to call today after lunch.


Witness #34: Bethany Mitchell, Physician and colleague of Teresa

Off the top, Mitchell testifies that she and Teresa were “life long friends” and that she was the godmother of her first child.

She said she regularly talked with Mark after Teresa was murdered, saying they discussed who would take care of their two daughters should something happen to him.

Mitchell also said she called Mark after his friend, Wright, was arrested for the murder. She said Mark sound panicked and was “worried he would be arrested next,” saying police were trying to frame him and Wright.

Mitchell maintained that Mark was apparently more upset with law enforcement than he was with the person accused of killing his wife.


Witness #35: Danielle Barreredelli, Supervisor for Solid Waste Management Dept., Albuquerque, New Mexico

Barreredelli is a childhood friend of Teresa. “Nobody made me laugh harder than Teresa,” she said.

When she learned of Teresa’s murder, she immediately flew to Florida. She said when Mark came to see her at her hotel, it “appeared” as though he was crying, though when she looked at him, his eyes weren’t red or watering.

She testified that Mark discussed who would take care of his daughters if something were to happen to him, which she was confused by. She said immediately after, he started talking about the life insurance.

She said Mark was very concerned about how he was going to make money to raise the girls after Teresa’s murder, and that Mark, for some reason, didn’t remember about the “large” life insurance policy he’d told her about until after she reminded him.

Barreredelli also said he seemed to be very concerned about what Wright might be saying to police after he was arrested, but she said she never heard him express any anger toward him.

During cross-examination, Sievers’ attorney argued that Barreredelli didn’t tell investigators or the State Attorney’s Office about the incident where Mark didn’t appear to actually be crying until October of this year.

The State then asked Barreredelli why that was. She says she told Teresa’s family about it, they told law enforcement, but law enforcement never followed up with her.


Witness #36: Kimberly Torres, Sievers’ next-door neighbor of six years

Torres was interviewed before by WINK News’ Chris Cifatte. She told him about several “strange” encounters with Mark and said she remembered hearing him argue with his wife about a year before the murder.

Torres testified Monday that she’d overheard an argument between Teresa and Mark about a month and a half before she was murdered. She said Teresa was going to leave and Mark responded with, “If that’s what you want to do, fine, but we’ll see about that.”

This is some of the first testimony we’ve heard that shows a strained relationship.

On cross-examination, Sievers’ attorney asked her if she’d ever told detectives about this argument the day Teresa was found murdered in her home. Torres said she did not.

She admitted on the stand that she doesn’t like Mark very much. She said she was relieved when he was arrested for Teresa’s murder.


Witness #37: Dr. Thomas Coyne, Medical Examiner

Dr. Coyne is the State’s final witness for the day. He was one of the last, if not the last witness in Rodgers’ trial.

As Coyne began his testimony, Teresa’s mother was seen walking out of the courtroom. Her sister was also not in the courtroom.

He described what Teresa looked like when she was brought in for her autopsy. So far, the jury has not been shown pictures of Teresa’s autopsy. Coyne instead detailed what they looked like. He said there were impacts of trauma on her head and he could feel fractures on her skull.

Coyne said there were probably 17 impacts to Teresa’s head and called the injuries “severe.” Just like in Rodgers’ trial, he said some of her injuries are most common in victims of a car accident.

During the testimony, Mark appeared to be struggling to listen to Coyne describe his wife’s injuries and was seen wiping his eyes with a tissue.

Coyne then stepped down to show jurors pictures from the autopsy. Mark chose not to look at them.

When asked by the Defense if he can definitively say more than one hammer was used in the murder, Coyne said he could not. This was a major point in Rodgers’ trial. A juror in that case said they couldn’t put the second hammer in Rodgers’ hand.


Following this testimony, the State rested its case.

The Defense then made a motion for judgment of acquittal, saying there is insufficient evidence to show Mark conspired in the murder of his wife and that the only direct evidence came from Wright, a convicted felon.

Judge Bruce Kyle denied the motion.

Sievers’ attorney says he plans to call five to seven witnesses, most of which are recalls of the State’s witnesses. No word on whether or not Mark will testify.

Court ended for the day around 5 p.m.


CONTINUING COVERAGE

 

Reporter:Chris Cifatte
Taylor Petras
Brooke Shafer
Writer:WINK News
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