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Haywood murder trial begins

Terrance Haywood speaks with his defense attorney Dennis McNamara at the end of testimony on Monday. (Photo by Deanne Johnson)

LISBON — About two years ago this Friday, investigators believe Terrance Haywood fatally shot Destiny Moody, also known as Destiny Penny, in her Main Street, Wellsville home.

On Monday, Haywood, 28, Chester Avenue, Wellsville, went on trial before Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam, charged with murder, aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and having weapons while under disability. If convicted, he faces 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge, which is an unclassified felony. The charges also have a firearms clause, which could mean additional time.

While most of the day Monday was spent selecting a jury, both the prosecution and defense offered jurors opening statements. Additionally, two witnesses briefly took the stand in the case.

Micah Ault, a special prosecutor through the Ohio Attorney General’s office, said Haywood had been in a relationship with Moody, one that she had decided was over after they had spent days arguing. While Moody was out working a shift at McDonald’s on Oct. 21, 2019, Haywood was out with another woman at the New Dimension bar.

Moody got home and in the early morning hours of Oct. 22 posted several things online that she was single. However, investigators believe he returned to her apartment and shot her in the face after 1:30 a.m.

Ault told jurors a friend, Citasia Tisdale, who had spent the night with Moody’s children while she had been at work and slept there, found her body in the morning. Jennifer Swords, a county sheriff’s dispatcher, took the stand following opening arguments, listening with jurors as Tisdale called 911 and spoke to her. Then Swords called her back after the call was disconnected.

The calls had a lot of background noise and confusion, but Tisdale was reporting she found her friend dead on the floor that morning and the front door standing open. Swords stayed on the phone with Tisdale until after the EMS or police arrived.

During his opening presentation, Ault laid out information for jurors about video footage he said shows Haywood’s vehicle in the street, and him running out the back door and moving around outside the home. Cindy Mick, a resident on Riverside Avenue, testified she provided some of that footage with a camera her daughter had given her for Christmas in 2018. The camera was recording images of her backyard, which faced Moody’s home. She provided an SD card containing the recorded video images to Wellsville police.

Ault said one of Moody’s children, who was only 4 years old when his mother was killed, later told an uncle and investigators he saw “daddy shoot mommy.” Although Haywood was not the boy’s actual father, Ault said the boy called Haywood daddy.

Defense attorney Dennis McNamara said no one knows if the child was actually not told anything about the death of his mother by relatives. He said evidence is also going to show the boy told investigators from the Child Advocacy Center his mom took him to the candy store when she got off work, which would have been late at night, and that he saw Haywood stab his mom with a chainsaw.

McNamara also questioned just how clear the video footage is that the prosecution will provide and whether or not you can begin to tell anything about the person or much about the vehicles on it.

Ault said there was a shoe print where the door had been kicked in that matches the tread on Haywood’s shoe. McNamara argued that type of Nike shoe is very common.

Ault said DNA evidence links a holster found next to the body to Haywood. McNamara told jurors that particular holster does not go with the gun used in the murder, a Cobra 380 investigators later found on a nearby rooftop. That gun reportedly did not have Haywood’s DNA on it and no gunshot residue was found on Haywood’s clothes, McNamara said.

McNamara also told jurors he questions the word of a man on the witness list for the prosecutor’s office, Rusty Ray Altman, who McNamara said has been in and out of trouble all his life. McNamara suggested Altman had only decided to tell investigators that Haywood committed the murder to gain some kind of favor and had no new information that was not available in newspaper or television coverage of the shooting death.

Finally, McNamara questioned how someone could be shot in a house with children and another woman there and no one heard anything or found her until six or seven hours after the shooting.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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