Evidence takes center stage in week one of the Knoxville ‘Black Widow’ retrial

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Witness testimony continues in day three of the Raynella Dossett Leath re-trial, with prosecutors presenting evidence that could potentially prove once and for all Leath’s guilt in the shooting death of her second husband David Leath.

The state is trying to convince the jury that Raynella Leath killed David Leath unlawfully, intentionally and with premeditation; while the defense is trying to prove that David Leath ended his own life.

Defense Attorney Joshua Hedrick used state witnesses to further his case, in an effort to show jurors that David Leath led a private life and kept his loved ones in the dark over his declining mental health. The defense maintains that David Leath suffered from dementia and depression, making him vulnerable to committing suicide.

“Did he talk to you about seeing a neurologist?” Hedrick asked state witness and longtime friend of David Leath’s Gordon Armstrong.

“No,” Armstrong replied.

“Did he talk to you about being on dementia medication?” Hedrick questioned.

“No,” Armstrong said.

“Did he tell you about seeing the neurologist and getting so frustrated with the tests that he would break down and cry?” Hedrick asked.

“No, he didn’t tell me that,” Armstrong answered.

More state witness testimony, this time from David Leath’s family attorney Charles Child, also seemed to support the defense’s assertion that David Leath had short term memory difficulties and showed changes in his behavior. According to the testimony, David Leath visited Child six weeks before he died with concerns about changes to Raynella’s will.

“When he arrived, he was not typically David,” Child said. “David is a very passive, laid back, easy going, gentle person. He was anxious, I would say a bit nervous, and emotional.”

Child told the court that when David and Raynella Leath married, they signed a prenuptial agreement that they later tossed out.

The state picked up momentum when they began introducing evidence. Det. Aaron Allen served as lead investigator in the Leath case. He showed jurors the weapon found at the crime scene, a .38 caliber fully loaded revolver. He also identified the three bullets, differing in make and nature, used to end David Leath’s life.

“Those are the three live rounds we found from the weapon,” Allen showed the court.

Also taking the stand was Miles Bradford Park, a Knox County Sheriff’s Office forensics technician who served as another investigator on the case in 2003. He studied the blood stains and angles of impact from the crime scene, information that could potentially prove if David killed himself or was killed.

The last witness to take the stand for the day was retired Knox County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Terry Lee who helped lead the forensics investigation. Among the pieces of evidence he discussed, he said there was not any fingerprints found on the revolver. He also said the absence of fingerprints on a gun is not unusual.

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