William (Bull) Evans-Smith's hands did not show any scratches on April 14, the day before his wife was strangled at their Loudoun County farm, several friends of the couple testified yesterday.

But they also said under questioning they simply may not have seen scratches that Evans-Smith, head of an American University foreign studies program, maintains he got from thorny locust trees working on his farm the previous day.

Marilyn DeCorte told a Loudoun County Circuit Court jury she and her husband were alongside the Evans-Smiths at the annual horse race at Oatlands Plantation the day before the slaying and said she did not notice any scratches on Evans-Smith's hands.

The couple seemed "very happy," DeCorte said.

When cross-examined by defense attorney Blair D. Howard as to whether Evans-Smith may have had scratches and she had just not seen them, DeCorte replied: "Yes sir."

Her testimony and similiar testimony from others at the race came on the fifth day of the trial of 64-year-old college official who prosecutor William Burch maintains murdered his wife and then made it appear she had been raped and their house burglarized.

Burch says this was a "calculated cover-up" by her husband.

Loudoun sheriff's deputies have testified that when they told Evans-Smith about the death of his wife, he told them that he had seen a dark-colored van on the road, near Hamilton off Virginia Rte. 725.

Several prosecution witnesses, who said they traveled the road near the Evans-Smith's Crooked Run Farm the morning of April 15, testified yesterday that they had not seen a van along the narrow road.

Investigator Jay Merchant testified yesterday that the first time Evans-Smith told him of the van he said it was on one side of the road. Two days later, Merchant said, Evans-Smith said the van was parked on the other side of the road.

Defense lawyer Howard yesterday accused Merchant of attempting to get Evans-Smith to say that his blood was under his wife's fingernail. Merchant agreed that he had no laboratory evidence to support his question: What was Evans-Smith going to say when told that his blood had been found under his wife's fingernail.

Forensic scientist Deanne Dabbs has testified that the blood found under the victim's fingernail was not suitable for typing. She has also testified, however, that the defendant's blood was found on the robe his wife was wearing when her body was found on the floor of her bedroom.

The defense has said the blood came from a scab that Evans-Smith had rubbed too hard and that his wife had helped him clean.

The prosecution is expected to call Lesleigh Cook, one of the couple's three daughters, as a witness today and end its case.