Home / National News / Valedictorian Murder Trial: Suspected Weapon Identified


(DETROIT) — During the second day of testimony at the murder trial of Jeffrey Pyne, who is accused of bludgeoning his mother to death in the family’s garage, prosecutors said that the 22-year-old’s father noticed two 2-by-4 boards missing, which they allege the son used to crush her skull and break her arm before stabbing her to death.

Jeffrey Pyne, a former high school valedictorian and University of Michigan biology student, allegedly murdered his mentally ill mother, Ruth Pyne, 51, in May 2011 by bludgeoning and stabbing her 16 times in their family’s garage in Highland Township, Mich.

Oakland County Sheriff’s Detective Steve Zdravaovski told jurors on Monday that Bernard Pyne contacted him early in June 2011 to tell him that he noticed a few items missing from the family’s garage, including two boards, a screwdriver and a box cutter.

The boards and tools haven’t been recovered, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Ruth’s husband, Bernard, and 11-year-old daughter found her body, and immediately called 911. After five months of investigation, police arrested Jeffrey Pyne and he has been held without bond for more than a year. Because he was indicted by a secret grand jury, little was known about the evidence against him.

On Monday, Zdravaovski told jurors of evidence that was taken from the Pyne family home by Michigan State Police and sent to a crime lab, including towels, the laundry tub drain and the laundry tub’s faucet handles. Because Ruth Pyne’s blood was found there, authorities believe her killer used the sink to clean up after bludgeoning her to death.

A pocketknife has also been introduced as evidence by prosecutors. When she was found, Ruth Pyne had 16 stab wounds in the neck and upper chest.

Court records show Ruth Pyne had a history of mental illness dating back 14 years. She was bipolar, and had spent two weeks in jail nine months before her death for attempting to strangle Jeffrey. Charges were dropped when she was treated at a hospital and promised to stay on her medication.

Jeffrey Pyne is not claiming insanity or self defense, but says he was at work at the time of the killing, and maintains he is innocent. Prosecutors showed jurors photos of the blisters on Jeffrey’s hands hours after the murder. Jeffrey had explained the wounds to his boss, who testified, as the results of throwing a shipping pallet.

“It did seem odd to me,” his boss, farmer William Cartwright said. “I expected more of a splinter or scrape than what looked like rope burns.”

Oakland County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald Chatterson told the court Monday that Jeffrey had told his father on the day of the murder that he had been inside the house two hours before the body was discovered — news that allegedly surprised his father. Bernard Pyne “seemed shocked and started questioning him,” Chatterson said.

Assistant Oakland County Prosecutor John Skrzynski told the court that Jeffrey Pyne is lying.

“He lied about where he was. He lied about what he was doing. He lied about how he got the blisters,” he said.

Pyne’s father has told ABC News he believes his son, who was a star athlete and valedictorian at West Highland Christian Academy, is innocent. The sentiment is shared by many in the tight-knit Highland Township community. It took a judge two days to find 12 impartial jurors to hear the case.

If convicted, Pyne faces life in prison, without parole.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


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