KNOXVILLE (WATE) — The jury heard opening statements Tuesday in the retrial of Norman Clark.
Clark, 32, is accused of killing Brittany Eldridge and their unborn baby. In January 2015, after eight days of testimony and less than 24 hours of deliberation, the 12 member jury ended in a deadlock after they could not agree on a verdict.
In Clark’s retrial, the defense says Eldridge’s death was likely a random act of violence. Attorney Kit Rodgers told jurors in his opening statements that there is no piece of evidence that links Clark to the crime.
“It looks like a robbery gone bad,” said Rogers. “At no time did they find Clark’s body in that apartment. Nowhere.”
However, the state paints a different narrative, saying that Clark had a motive to kill Eldridge. According to prosecutors, Clark didn’t want Eldridge to have a baby.
Assistant District Attorney General Leslie Nassios, speaking on behalf of the state said Clark admittedly juggled multiple girlfriends without one knowing about the other. She claims a new baby would threaten what they describe as a “Playboy lifestyle” and only add to his financial struggles.
“Brittany didn’t engage in risky behaviors that lead you think that she might be at risk for a violent death. She wasn’t into drugs. She wasn’t into promiscuity,” said Nassios. “Once she became pregnant, he changed. You’ll hear that he changed like a flip of a light switch. A lover who had been attentive and caring, suddenly became withdrawn and cold, and even cruel to her.”
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan also testified Tuesday. She said she found bruising inside Eldridge’s mouth pointing to suffocation. She says she also found several wounds on Eldridge’s back, which likely means she was attacked from behind.
Brittany was in her third trimester. Dr. Mileusnic-Polchan says her baby was full-term and died of suffocation in the womb.