WAPAKONETA — Brent Williams, charged with murder in the 2017 death of his estranged wife, took the witness stand Friday and vehemently denied choking Erin Mulcahy to death, moving her body into a shower, turning the water on and leaving her body for investigators to find.
Under cross-examination by Assistant Auglaize County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Elder, however, Williams was at times argumentative and combative as he made statements deemed by Elder to be contradictory, inconsistent and untruthful.
A judge sitting by assignment of the Ohio Supreme Court is now tasked with sorting truth from fiction and rendering a verdict in the case.
Williams, 46, is charged with killing Mulcahy, whose nude body was found in a running shower at a Waynesfield apartment on July 8, 2018.
Auglaize County Coroner Thomas Freytag ruled the woman died of strangulation and had been lying in the shower for approximately three days before being discovered.
Judge Mark O’Connor, at the conclusion of closing arguments Friday afternoon, instructed the parties to return to the Auglaize County courtroom at 9 a.m. Tuesday, at which time a verdict is expected.
Williams, during his time on the witness stand, described his 15-month marriage to Mulcahy as “a roller coaster.”
“She was sick; she struggled with life,” the defendant said. “I had her to the hospital every two weeks due to alcoholism. I went above and beyond trying to save her life,” he stated.
But Williams also testified that he had decided in early July 2017 to move out of the Waynesfield apartment he shared with Mulcahy.
“I got to the point I wasn’t happy; I didn’t want to be there. I got tired of the alcoholism, the argument … the craziness.”
He said he had contacted an attorney to initiate divorce proceedings.
Elder questioned Williams’ credibility on several fronts, including his alleged love for Mulcahy as it contrasted with his willingness to leave her without a home, car or money. The prosecutor pointed out other discrepancies in the defendant’s testimony.
“You have trouble with the truth, don’t you?” Elder asked Williams.
“No I do not,” an agitated Williams replied.
Through testimony during the trial, it was revealed that Williams suffers from Erb’s Palsy, which renders his right arm essentially without function. Kluge said such a condition would make it nearly impossible for Williams to drag the 180-pound Mulcahy into a shower, as suggested by prosecutors.
In his closing statements, however, the prosecutor maintained that Mulcahy was strangled and placed in the shower.
“I have a dead body in a shower, strangled by a left-handed person behind locked doors. It doesn’t make sense,” Elder said. “What does make sense is that (Williams and Mulcahy) had sex on July 5 and that he choked her afterwards.
Kluge told the judge there is “absolutely no physical evidence” that Williams placed his wife in the shower, maintaining that the state had fallen “far short of its burden” of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Williams killed Mulcahy.
Morning testimony was highlighted by a videotaped deposition of Dr. Werner Spitz, a nationally-acclaimed forensic pathologist from Michigan who has testified in numerous high-profile criminal cases.
Spitz was paid $4,000 by the defendant to review and assess information obtained during an autopsy performed on Erin Mulcahy shortly after her death in July 2017.
Lucas County Coroner Diane Scalla Barrett, who performed that autopsy, testified Thursday that Mulcahy’s death was the result of strangulation and classified the death as a homicide.
The 92-year-old Spitz testified he disagreed with many of the findings outlined in the autopsy performed by Barrett.
He said injuries described by Barrett were “inconsistent” with a death by strangulation and further suggested that the fact that there was no shown fracture to the victim’s hyoid bone — a fragile bone in the neck — makes a medical ruling of strangulation a “remote choice.”
Spitz added that the absence of “defensive wounds” on Mulcahy’s body was not compatible with a homicide.
Armed with medical information from several hospitals that suggested Mulcahy was prone to frequent seizures, Spitz said it is likely that Mulcahy suffered a seizure in the shower that led to her death.
“I think she fell; she collapsed after having a seizure in the shower and hit her head … and part of her face … on the soap dish while falling.”
Asked if the injuries sustained by Mulcahy would have led him to a conclusion that death was the result of a homicide, Spitz replied, “No. More evidence is needed for that finding. I see more evidence of this being a non-homicidal death.”