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Opening Arguments Begin in Calvin Bell Murder Trial

The prosecution and defense present opening arguments and testimony begins in trial of Calvin Bell. The 44 year old is charged with 2nd degree murder for the death of Bretnie Owens in June 2013 and faces an additional 3 counts of robbery for the incident. Our Beth Russo is just back from Broome County court and joins us in studio with more.

Jason, prosecutor Kevin Dooley says that this is a straightforward case.
He tells jurors that at approximately 1:30 a-m on June 15th 2013 Calvin Bell and his co-defendant Nigel Smith broke into Bretnie Owens' Stone Street apartment looking for money and drugs, Dooley did not hesitate in admitting to jurors that Owens was a known drug dealer.

Dooley says that during the course of this robbery Bell caused Owens' death by ashpyxiation.

Defense Attorney Michael Korchak says that's not the case, that Bell was not even present in the apartment at the time of the murder pointing out that none of his DNA was found at the crime scene.

In his opening Korchak called into question the credibility of the state's witnesses many of whom he claims are drug users. Korchak says that after hearing testimony jurors will be left with more questions than answers.

Jurors spent the remainder of the day hearing testimony from several witnesses including Binghamton Police Investigator April Demer.

Jurors saw photographs and Investigator Demer walked them through the crime scene. Demer told jurors Bretnie Owens was found lying face up on the living room floor, that the apartment appeared to have been ransacked, and that neither money nor drugs were found on the scene.

The prosecution expects to call roughly 40 witnesses over the next week. Testimony will continue Thursday morning at 9:30.