Defense rests, ‘Black Widow’ Raynella Leath chooses not to testify in retrial

UPDATE: 10:40 A.M.

Judge Summers grants judgment of acquittal. Case of Tennessee vs. Raynella Leath dismissed.


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Raynella Leath chose not to testify in her own defense on Tuesday, shortly before the defense wrapped up its case in her third trial for the death of her second husband.

The defense spent the day working to prove David Leath took his own life, rather than Raynella Leath shooting him and staging it as a suicide. The final witness of the day helped bolster their case.

According to the investigation, the revolver used to kill David Leath was fired three times and suicide expert Thomas Joiner said multi-shot suicides are common.

“People flinch at the last minute. And if you flinch as you’re firing a weapon, you may well miss. The other factor is that working up to something as fearsome and daunting as taking one’s own life by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, some people might fire a test shot into a wall, into the floor, into furniture,” said Joiner.

Perhaps the most dramatic event in the courtroom was the defense’s attempt to recreate the crime scene, bringing in the very bed in which David Leath was found shot to death. Defense attorney Josh Hedrick proceeded to lie down and demonstrate how David Leath could have killed himself.

“If I were to lie on this bed and I were to hold the pistol in this direction, and I were to pull the trigger, but I were to miss high. So the bullet doesn’t enter my forehead, it slides through my hair, would that be consistent with this rod you see here?” he said.

Joiner agreed. Forensics expert Celia Hartnett testified the scenario would be consistent with the evidence.

Jurors will hear closing arguments from both sides on Wednesday. Each side is limited to 30 minutes apiece and then the jury will begin deliberations.

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