The first full day in the trail of Michael Beard featured 13 witnesses taking the stand. Beard is one of the three men facing murder charges in connection the Sept. 2015 death of Kelley Clayton.
Several of the witnesses consisted of forensic crime scene investigators with the New York State Police, as well as members of the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office. The forensic investigators were primarily questioned about the type of evidence collected and why, at the Clayton’s Town of Caton home following Kelley’s murder.
Some witnesses on the stand throughout the day included people familiar with the Claytons.
The first witness to take the stand was the 911 operator who answered Thomas Clayton’s call the night of Sept. 29, 2015. Thomas called 911 when he returned home from a poker game in Corning, and found Kelley dead inside the home.
The Clayton’s neighbor was next. He was questioned about his encounter with Thomas that night. After discovering Kelley’s body, Thomas gathered the couple’s two children and took them across the road to the neighbor’s house.
That neighbor then went with Thomas back to the residence, and that’s when he described what he saw upon entering the house, and seeing Kelley’s body on the kitchen floor.
Before the lunch break, the first responding officer to the scene also described what he saw when he arrived at the couple’s home located at 2181 Ginnan Rd.
Following the lunch break, the homeowner of the Corning residence where Thomas was playing poker at the night before, took the stand. She described an instance where Thomas asked to borrow her phone around 11 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2015, to call a worker.
After the homeowner learned of Kelley’s murder the next day, she looked at her cell phone to see who Thomas called, but didn’t find any in the phone’s call log.
That’s when the homeowner’s daughter took the stand, and described how she was able to see who Thomas called and when by looking at the phone’s billing statement online. One of the numbers called just before 11 p.m. the night of the murder was discovered to be that of Michael Beard’s.
While many of the day’s witnesses weren’t on the stand for more than 15 minutes, two were being questioned for much longer. Witness 12 of 13, an investigator and blood spatter expert with the New York State Police, was on the stand for well over an hour.
During that time, he was asked about scores of photos taken at the crime scene, and analyzed for the jury the what he believed the blood spatter translated to. The investigator said he believed Kelley was struck by a blunt object multiple times while she was in her bed, then got up, ran down the hall, stumbled down the stairs, and finally ended up in the kitchen.
The trial resumes in Steuben County Court in Bath Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Two other men are also facing charges in connection to the murder. They are Mark Blandford of Elmira, and Thomas Clayton, Kelley’s husband. It is alleged that Thomas worked with Michael Beard in a murder-for-hire scheme to have his wife killed.