By Ed Runyan
Jurors in the Richard Clark murder trial may hear testimony from defense witnesses first thing today in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
But if Clark’s defense team decides not to present any witnesses, the case may move directly to closing arguments and jury deliberations.
The jury of nine women and three men will be asked to decide whether Clark, 40, killed Dwayne Hickman, 49, last March.
Thursday afternoon was taken up with testimony from Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, county coroner, who described the 11 stab wounds and four lacerations on Hickman’s body. Two wounds to Hickman’s neck were described as fatal.
The wounds could have come from a knife police recovered at Hickman’s Williams- burg Street Northwest home March 25, Dr. Germaniuk testified.
The knife and a sweater were found together in a bag, and the sweater had DNA from Hickman and Clark on it.
The amount of time that passed between Hickman’s death and the time when his body was found — about 48 hours — made it difficult to tell what type of knife was used in the attack, Dr. Germaniuk said.
Matt Pentz of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, Clark’s attorney, cross- examined Dr. Germaniuk regarding his estimation of Hickman’s time of death, asking Dr. Germaniuk why he told Pentz in August that Hickman’s time of death was about 36 hours before the body was found — and testified Thursday to it being about 48 hours before the body was found.
Dr. Germaniuk said he had reviewed the case several more times since August, including Thursday in preparation for his testimony, and felt 48 hours earlier was the most likely time of death.
Dr. Germaniuk said the fact that Hickman’s body was “coming out of rigor mortis” at the time the body was found, meaning the muscles were no longer extremely stiff, indicated the time of death.
“Skin slippage” on Hickman’s back, in which the skin separates from the tissue below, also suggested that time of death was about 48 hours earlier, Dr. Germaniuk said.
In opening statements to the jury, Pentz said he would raise questions about the time line prosecutors will lay out, including where Clark was around the time Hickman died.
Hickman and Clark were seen together at Hickman’s house March 20, and Clark was wearing the brown sweater found with the knife, prosecutors said.