KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WATE) – The state and defense both rested Monday in the case against a Knoxville man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.
Norman Clark chose not to testify in his own defense during his retrial on Monday. Clark is accused of killing Brittany Eldridge and her unborn child. He was put on trial for the crime in 2011, but it ended in a mistrial.
In day six of the trial, his alibi was put to the test. He claims that he was at another woman’s house the night Eldridge died, telling police he arrived at around 9 p.m., but Leanne Hawn recalls a different timeline.
“Between 10:30 and 10:40, I woke up and he was walking through my bedroom,” Hawn said in court.
The state called FBI agent Kevin Horan to the witness stand. He used cell phone tower analysis to determine the whereabouts of Clark’s phone the night of Eldridge’s murder, saying his phone pinged the cell phone tower associated with Eldrdige’s apartment three times the evening she died. In comparison, his phone only pinged that tower 10 times the entire month before.
“What I would say is that his phone had to be within the footprint of the sectors that showed up in my drive test,” Horan said.
The state maintains that Clark had a motive to kill Eldridge: he didn’t want a child because it would threaten his playboy lifestyle and child support payments would put him in a financial bind.
The state used his mother Estella Clark to show that he was having financial trouble in the months leading up to Eldrige’s death.
When the state rested, the defense asked Judge Steven Sword to grant a motion of judgment of acquittal, on the grounds that the case lacked sufficient direct evidence to score a conviction. Judge Sword dismissed the request.
“If the jury believes [the state’s proof], then that is sufficient evidence in my mind to show that the defendant is the person who killed her,” Judge Sword said. “Now I’m not saying that they are going to find that beyond a reasonable doubt… that is a completely different analysis. I’m just saying that they could if they believe the state’s theory of the case and the witnesses.”
The defense called one witness to the stand, a TBI agent who testified to the lack of DNA evidence to link Clark to the crime scene.
Closing arguments will begin Tuesday morning, then jurors will begin deliberations.
WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Bridgette Bjorlo is tweeting live updates from the courtroom. Follow her here.