U.S. prosecutors said a former police officer strangled his pregnant girlfriend, rolled her body in bedding, stuck it in the back of his truck, and drove to the home of a high school classmate who helped him dump it.
But that friend isn't helping now: Myisha Ferrell has agreed to testify against Bobby Cutts Jr., and jurors are expected to hear from her Tuesday in his capital murder trial.
Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett said in opening statements Monday that Cutts told Ferrell he had strangled Jessie Marie Davis with his arm.
He also told Ferrell to say that he had arranged for her to baby-sit for his 2 1/2-year-old son Blake — part of his plan to hide his involvement in the crime, Hartnett said.
Ferrell later told police of Cutts' alleged admission, prosecutors said. She pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and complicity to gross abuse of a corpse. She was sentenced to two years in prison.
Pleads not guilty
Cutts, 30, a former patrolman, has pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and other charges in the death of Davis and her female fetus. Thousands searched for Davis in the area surrounding her northeast Ohio home in the days after she was reported missing June 15.
Defense attorney Fernando Mack said in opening statements that Cutts knew where Davis' body was, but said he had nothing to do with her death. He also said prosecutors had no evidence tying Cutts to the killing.
On Monday, the jury heard two audio recordings in which Cutts denied any knowledge about what happened to Davis, who was about two weeks from delivering their second child, according to prosecutors.
Cutts told Sgt. Eric Weisburn that he didn't know if the child was his because Davis also was seeing someone else.
Cutts, who was married, characterized their relationship by saying, "It was more sexual than like a relationship." He added: "Blake was born and that made things a little different."
He told Weisburn that he'd last spoken to Davis on June 13. He said he called her the next day when she didn't bring 2 1/2-year-old Blake over for him to watch.
In one of the phone calls, he left an angry message saying, "You could at least call," Hartnett said. At the time, Blake was home alone.
Mack told jurors that they wouldn't like that Cutts knew where Davis' body was, or that he left Blake alone for 26 hours. But he said prosecutors did not have evidence Cutts killed Davis. Prosecutors hope Cutts' other actions will enrage the jurors, he said.
"They hope that you'll lose your way," Mack said.
Jessie Davis' mother, Patricia Porter, testified that she found Blake home alone with a dirty diaper June 15. She said that the 2 1/2-year-old told her: "Mommy's crying. Mommy broke the table. Mommy's in the rug."
Blake later told police: "Daddy's mad."
Investigators found bleach dumped in Davis' bedroom, her nightstand tipped over and the mattress disturbed.
Hartnett said Cutts was feeling the pressure of his crumbling marriage, financial debt and supporting several children.
Hartnett said Cutts led police to Davis' body. The badly decomposed remains were found June 23 in a park about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from her home near North Canton, some 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Cleveland.
Mack pointed out that a 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.
The trial is expected to last at least two weeks.