A former police officer went on trial Monday on charges alleging he strangled a woman who was pregnant with his child, dumped her body, then lied to investigators as crews of thousands searched for her body.
The 2 1/2-year-old son of the victim and the defendant gave investigators some of their first clues after his mother disappeared, saying: "Mommy's in the rug."
Bobby Cutts Jr. was feeling the pressure of his crumbling marriage, financial debt and supporting several children, Stark County assistant prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett said in her opening statement at Cutts' trial.
"We are here because of physical pressure — the physical pressure he exerted around the neck of Jessie Davis for the several minutes it took for him to snuff the life out of her and her unborn child," she said.
Cutts' attorney, Fernando Mack, told the jurors they wouldn't like the fact that Cutts knew where the body was and left his 2 1/2-year-old son alone for 26 hours, referring to charges of gross abuse of a corpse and child endangering.
Defense: No cause of death
However, he said prosecutors did not have any evidence that he killed Davis. He said the medical examiner was unable to determine how Davis was killed, listing the cause as "unspecified homicidal violence."
"They don't have a cause of death, rather they have hypotheticals," he said.
Hartnett told the jury not to expect a lot of forensic evidence.
"It's not a CSI episode," she said. "DNA will not determine this case, common sense will."
Cutts, 30, a former Canton patrolman, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and other charges in the death of Davis and her female fetus. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Defense attorneys lost an attempt to prevent the jury from hearing statements made by 2 1/2-year-old Blake Davis, who is Davis and Cutts' son.
The boy told an investigator "Daddy's mad" the day his mother was reported missing. He also said: "Mommy was crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in the rug."
Hartnett told jurors that Cutts wrapped Davis' body and removed it from her house.
"He rolled Jessie up in the comforter from her bed and put her in the back of his truck," the prosecutor said, adding that her feet hung out of the comforter.
Ex-classmate will be key witness
Davis was reported missing June 15 by her mother, who found Blake alone and wearing a dirty diaper, and Davis' bedroom in disarray. Her body was found in a park on June 23 about 20 miles away from her home near North Canton, some 45 miles south of Cleveland.
The key witness in the case is Myisha Ferrell, Cutts' high school classmate. Prosecutors have filed court documents saying Cutts admitted to Ferrell that he killed Davis. Ferrell pleaded guilty in November to obstructing justice for lying to authorities. She also admitted complicity to gross abuse of a corpse and was sentenced to two years in prison.