A Loudoun County medical examiner testified yesterday that scratches he examined on an upper arm of William (Bull) Evans-Smith two days after Evans-Smith's 64-year-old wife was strangled appeared to have been caused by fingernails.
"In my opinion, it is extremely unlikely they were caused by anything other than human fingernails," said Dr. Michael Solin, a county medical examiner.
Solin was a rebuttal witness for the prosecution on the ninth day of Evans-Smith's trial in Loudoun County Circuit Court in Leesburg. Evans-Smith is charged with murder in the death of his wife of 43 years, Barbara Evans-Smith.
Judge Carleton Penn yesterday sent the jury home for the weekend after the defense rested its case. Penn said closing arguments and the charge to the jury will be heard on Monday. One juror was replaced yesterday because he had shoed horses at the couple's Crooked Run Farm.
Commonwealth's Attorney William Burch maintains that the 65-year-old defendant strangled his wife, dragged her body upstairs and then "set the stage" to make it appear that she had been raped and that the house had been burglarized.
Dr. James C. Beyer, chief medical examiner, has testified that the victim was not raped. William Evans-Smith told the jury Thursday that his wife was alive when he left his 70-acre farm on April 15 to commute to his job as head of a foreign studies program at American University. He testified that he cannot account for an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 worth of heirloom jewelry missing from his home.
Beyer has testified that three triangular-shaped marks near the spot where a pair of pantyhose was tied around Barbara Evans-Smith's neck could have been caused by the victim's fingernails as she tried to remove the noose-like pantyhose from around her neck.
Solin said yesterday that he collected body specimens from William Evans-Smith on April 17, two days after Barbara Evans-Smith's body was found on her bedroom floor with underwear stuffed in her mouth.
Solin said scratches on William Evans-Smith's left hand did not appear to have been caused by human fingernails.
Defense attorneys have maintained that the scratches on William Evans-Smith's body were caused by thorny locust and multiflora rose, vegetation on his farm.
But Solin said that the spacing of the scratches on the defendant's upper arm, which were an estimated two to four days old when examined on April 17, were "extremely typical" of scratches caused by human fingernails.
Earlier yesterday, prosecutor Burch asked William Evans-Smith about his testimony that he had received the scratches on the back of his left hand at his farm near Hamilton on Sunday, April 14, the day before his wife's death.
Burch asked William Evans-Smith, who was on the stand about two hours yesterday, whether he recalled telling his daughter, Lesleigh Cook, and son-in-law, Edward Cook, that he had received those scratches on Saturday, not Sunday. William Evans-Smith said he did not recall that statement.
Then Burch asked whether the defendant remembered telling the couple's friend, Mary Pitz, the same account.
"I believe I said Saturday or Sunday," said William Evans-Smith.
Col. James E. Mechling, assistant commonwealth's attorney, who was called back to the stand by the prosecution, said he saw William Evans-Smith at the Oatlands horse races the afternoon before the slaying. Mechling acknowledged that he had been on horseback, but he said the defendant had his hands on the rail as he chatted with him and, at one point, William Evans-Smith got him a cup of coffee.
Burch asked if Mechling had seen a bandage on either of William Evans-Smith's hands. "No, absolutely not," Mechling said.
The defendant has testified that his wife went upstairs to retrieve an address book before he left on the day of the slaying.
Burch yesterday asked William Evans-Smith about a photograph that showed an address book on the couple's kitchen table. The photo was taken the day of the slaying.
Burch asked if he knew where the address book was now. William Evans-Smith replied that, on the advice of his counsel, he discarded it.
Defense attorney David H. Moyes made a motion to dismiss the prosecution's case yesterday, a motion that Penn rejected. "This isn't a case of a smoking gun," said Penn, who acknowledged that it was a circumstantial case, "as, indeed, most murders are."
"That's why we have those 12 jurors," he said. "This is an issue to be decided by the jury."