Investigators, experts testify in murder trial
by Jessica Loeding
Aug 27, 2014 | 2332 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Investigators and expert forensic witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the murder trial of a brother and sister charged in the shooting death of their roommate.

Steven Eller and Tammy Murphy lived with Danny Lamar Gravley at 13 Dogwood Place in March 2013. Gravley was found March 17, 2013, in his truck on Red Top Mountain Road, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Eller and Murphy are charged with malice murder, felony murder, concealing the death of another and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime in connection with his death.

The defense maintained in opening statements Monday that Gravley became violent with Murphy, pointing a gun at the woman. Eller stepped in and the three struggled. During the altercation, Eller’s attorney Lora Alsher said, the gun fired, killing Gravley.

Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Sgt. Jonathan Rogers said Murphy told police two days after the March 17 shooting that Gravley had grabbed her shirt and, during the struggle, the gun went off.

Murphy told authorities Gravley’s body had been removed through the front door, loaded into his truck and driven down Interstate 75 to Red Top Mountain Road. She said the handgun was tossed out the window somewhere along the interstate.

“She made several statements indicating she was drunk,” Rogers said. “She made several that indicated to me drunken choices were made.”

Eller also indicated drinking was involved, Rogers said.

According to Rogers, Eller said he found Gravley holding Murphy at gunpoint and he approached from behind, wrestling the gun from Gravley’s hand.

As the two struggled, Gravley “threw his weight back,” Eller told police, and the two landed on the bed, where the gun went off, killing Gravley, Rogers testified.

According to testimony, Eller suffered a broken ankle in the struggle.

Eller “cleaned the place up” and “burned everything he thought needed burning,” wrapping Gravley in a shower curtain and sheets and dragged him out of the house and into the truck, Rogers said the man told police.

BCSO Investigator Jonathan White testified midday Tuesday about the evidence collected during the execution of two search warrants at the Dogwood Place property.

White said samples were taken and sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation from areas inside a Hyundai SUV and on the rear deck and front porch, along with a bedroom. A GBI expert said blood belonging to Gravley was found inside the SUV and on Eller’s shoes seized by police.

A hair found on the rear deck stairs also matched the victim, an expert testified.

White said indications of blood spatter were found along the wall below the height of a light switch and in concentrated areas on the floor, evidenced by areas of chemical cleaners visible under an alternate light source.

Testimony will resume in Judge Suzanne Smith’s Courtroom A at 9 a.m. today.