Forensic Scientists, Insurance Salesman Headline Day Seven of Michael Beard Trial

Local News

Ten witnesses, two of which have testified previously in the trial for Michael Beard, took to the stand in day seven of that trial on Tuesday.

Beard is one of the three men charged in the death of Kelley Clayton, a mother of two killed in her Caton home during the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2015.

Of the witnesses taking the stand Tuesday, a local meteorologist who discussed rain totals from the day before the death of Kelley Clayton and the two weeks following the incident last year.

The meteorologist testified between 1.9 and 2.7 inches of rainfall was recorded in the Elmira area on Sept. 29 and 30 alone. That’s more than half the average rainfall for the entire month of September. 

That testimony came into play later as two forensic scientists with the New York State Police testified about evidence gathered which may have been influenced by the elements.

The first, a scientist discussing the testing of certain evidence to look for traces of blood on the alleged murder weapon found off State Route 225 in Chemung County days after the murder, as well as the testing of cotton swabs of blood evidence taken from the Clayton residence, and also the bag of clothes in question that was found in the days following the murder in a swampy area of Elmira Heights.

The second forensic scientist was the one who tested DNA of that blood evidence. That scientist confirmed the blood found on the alleged murder weapon was in fact Kelley Clayton’s. She also confirmed Kelley’s blood was the blood recovered from various areas of the Clayton residence when police were gathering evidence.

That same scientist also testified that the articles of clothing in that bag belonged to that of Michael Beard, as his ‘touch DNA’ was present all over the clothes. She another person’s blood was also found on the clothes, but not enough to make a match to a DNA profile.

Shortly afterward, that same forensic scientist testified that Michael Beard’s DNA was found on a cotton swab of blood evidence taken from the Clayton home. The blood belonged to Kelley Clayton but there was evidence of ‘touch’ DNA belonging to Michael Beard included in that sample.

‘Touch’ DNA can be anything from fingerprints, to dead skin cells, and more, but not a body fluid such as blood.

The defense then asked that scientist if that touch DNA could be from when Beard worked on the home in the past. She said it was possible, but she believed it to be a fresh sample.

An insurance salesman and friend of Thomas Clayton also took the stand Wed. afternoon. He confirmed that he doubled the life insurance policies for Thomas and Kelley Clayton in Oct. of 2014, those payments for that plan would have gone into effect on Oct. 31, 2015. Kelley’s policy was for $1 million (up from the original plan policy of $500,000), Thomas’ was for $2 million (Thomas’ policy was originally $1 million).

Special Prosecutor and Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore says he plans to call one more witness to the stand on Wednesday. Wetmore does plan on reading Michael Beard’s grand jury testimony given last year. After that, the prosecution will rest.

Of the other witnesses on the stand Tuesday, were a Verizon employee who testified to certain calls and texts to and from Thomas Clayton’s phone in the days leading up to the murder, as well as a civilian computer data analyst with the NYSP who extracted cell phone data from Thomas’ phone and testified his phone was on/operating during the evening hours on Sept. 28, 2015 and into the early morning hours of the next day.

Court resumes Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Thomas Clayton found his wife, Kelley, dead in the couple’s Caton home during the early morning hours of Sept. 29, 2015.

Two other men are also facing charges in connection to Kelley Clayton’s death, including her husband, Thomas. It’s believed that Thomas Clayton allegedly hired Beard to kill his wife, Kelley. 

Stay with 18 News for the latest in the trial.
 

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