Graphic testimony marks murder trial

Posted Nov. 05, 2008, at 9:51 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:16 a.m.

SKOWHEGAN, Maine — Testimony turned graphic Wednesday in the second day of Richard Reynolds murder trial in Somerset County, as medical examiners and forensic officials provided detailed descriptions of his alleged victim’s injuries.

Reynolds, 41, is accused of shooting his wife in the head at her brother’s residence in Fairfield on Jan. 12, 2007, one day after she was granted sole custody of the couple’s sons, and after months of marital problems. Rhonda Wakefield-Reynolds, 37, died the next day.

Justice Andrew Horton is hearing Reynolds’ jury-waived murder trial.

The trial hinges on two opposing perspectives: whether a depressed, despondent Reynolds went to his wife’s temporary home to commit suicide or to murder his wife, who he had accused of adultery and drug use. Both parties had protection from abuse orders in effect against each other at the time of the shooting.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea asked Maine State Police Detective Jeffrey Love, who interviewed Reynolds shortly after the shooting, “Did Richard Reynolds call 911? Did Richard Reynolds say this was an accident?” Love answered “no” to both questions, bolstering the state’s contention that Reynolds deliberately murdered his wife.

Forensic science and a foam mannequin took center stage during much of Wednesday’s testimony. The mannequin was positioned by experts to illustrate the path the bullet that killed Wakefield-Reynolds took through her head.

The dummy was then dressed in the victim’s blood-stained pink bathrobe to further show how the bullet first went through the sleeve of her robe before striking her, and that her assailant stood at least five feet away when firing the fatal shot.

Zainea presented 22 witnesses over two days before the state rested its case mid-afternoon Wednesday.

Testimony so far has ranged from unpleasant autopsy details to a titillating description of the Reynolds’ sex life.

Reynolds’ business partner, Vance Cayford, testified, “Their sexuality was weird. They were what you call swingers. But [Richard Reynolds] was angry when she was with other guys.”

Other witnesses linked the gun used to shoot Wakefield-Reynolds and the bullet recovered from her body to her husband’s .40-caliber handgun.

Reynolds’ palm print was also found on a note recovered from his vehicle that indicated he wrote the note himself. It stated, “Rhonda Reynolds doing someone’s husband not her own your friendly local waitress Rhonda Reynolds someone else’s husband.” There was no punctuation in the note and it was written in all capital letters.

First to testify Wednesday was Maine’s Chief Medical Examiner Margaret Greenwald, who said Wakefield-Reynolds died from a gunshot wound to the top of her head that grazed her arm first. She said the victim had her right arm raised across her forehead in a defensive position when she was shot.

Greenwald said this was not typical penetration for gunshot wounds, which are usually perpendicular.

Greenwald testified that the bullet was likely shot from above Wakefield-Reynolds head, possibly when she was seated or crawling on the floor.

The trial started 45 minutes late Wednesday which earned two transport officers a dressing down from Justice Horner. “I don’t know who I have to speak to,” he said, “but this is a very important trial.” He cautioned the officers not to bring the defendant late to court again. He did acknowledge that the recent move to the new Somerset County Jail in Madison has caused a few transportation glitches.

Defense Attorney Peter Barnett said before court began Wednesday that his client had asked him not to comment on his case and therefore Barnett could not say whether Reynolds will testify on his own behalf.

The trial is expected to continue into Friday at Somerset County Superior Court.

bdnpittsfield@verizon.net

487-3187

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