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April 26, 2012

Doctor testifies on shooting

Pathologist: Wade alive through 20 shots

DUNCAN — Maurice Wade remained alive as he was shot 20 times Jan. 7, 2011.

That’s what Stephens County District Attorney Jason Hicks presented to the court and jury Wednesday with his witness, Dr. Chai S. Choi, forensic pathologist.

The murder trial of Timothy Maher began Monday in the courtroom of Judge Joe Enos. Maher’s defense attorney is Don Gutteridge. It has not been disputed that Maher shot Wade, but the defendant is contending it was self-defense or “stand your ground.”

Pre-autopsy pictures were also introduced showing the multiple-gunshot entry and exit wounds, including three fatal shots to the chest and abdomen of Wade.

Choi works for the state of Oklahoma’s medical examiner office, has 29 years of experience and testified she has conducted more than 8,000 autopsies and testified in court more than 500 times.

Using an anatomical drawing that was projected on the wall for the jury, Choi pointed out the entry and exit wounds, noting which were considered the fatal and rapidly fatal points.

A rapidly fatal point, she said, is one that if medical treatment is not administered immediately, the person could die within minutes.

The jury spent more time out of the courtroom than in it, as Gutteridge protested various evidence exhibits, including the photos. An evidentiary hearing also was held without the jury’s presence. During that hearing, Maher’s wife, Ruthann, testified.

Mrs. Maher, a specialist in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Sill, has filed for divorce. Gutteridge had requested a mistrial late Tuesday when a memorandum was mentioned that he believed was not provided by the state and cited discovery orders as his basis for the request.

In question was a memorandum that outlined an agreement for Mrs. Maher indicating that, should she testify truthfully, her charges of reciprocation of knowledge about the cultivation of marijuana in her home may be dismissed. The document was not signed and Hicks said he never gave it any weight as he didn’t even know who had produced it, only that it appeared on his desk.

“I do not believe this situation warrants a mistrial,” Hicks said. “This disclosure of the agreement is not going to change direction of the defense.” Hicks noted the defense has always claimed self-defense/stand your ground.

On Wednesday, Hicks said he never kept that agreement from the defense. The mistrial was not granted and the trial continued, with Enos advising the defendant’s attorney that he could question Mrs. Maher about the agreement as she was still available for cross examination.

Later in the day, Mrs. Maher testified to the agreement.

She said her security clearance with the Army had been flagged and it may be removed. She also said that she is not able to re-enlist. She told the court that she basically is in limbo, or “taking up space in the military.” She isn’t entitled to benefits, such as education, while her charges remain in place. Gutteridge also asked her about custody of the 5-year-old daughter she had with Maher. She said his parents have emergency temporary custody, but she intends to get her daughter after the school year is completed.

Jurors heard Hicks ask Mrs. Maher about the plants. She said she had only learned of the marijuana plants in her home the night before.

At that time, she had asked her husband to get them out of the house. She said it was because they were illegal, she was in the military and her daughter was in the home.

She was also asked about the shooting. At the time the shooting began, she had her back turned to the two men and was searching for the victim’s cellphone in her couch. She said the two men had been calling each other names and while she felt threatened by Wade, she never believed her life was in danger. She said he had “bowed up,” confronting Maher, and put his hands up many times as if to say “what are you going to do about it” and then called her husband “Sarge or Sargeant” as if to insult him.

Also, her husband had called the victim several names.

She testified she was in shock when the shooting happened.

“I had never seen a person killed in front of me, so my mind is blocking a lot out,” she said.

She also testified that Wade had told Maher to go outside and fight.

Gutteridge asked Mrs. Maher if Wade calling him Sarge or saying he didn’t like “your government” would bother Maher.

“When he was in he was very passionate about the military,” she said, following with, “No, that wouldn’t send him into a rage.” She said she heard two more shots after she had turned around.

The day’s hearing ended with the jury viewing some of the pre-autopsy photos of the deceased, and the state’s medical examiner pointing out the bullet patterns. Choi said  she could determine that Wade was alive during all 20 shootings because of the blood at the entry and exit points.

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