Crime

Weather forces delay in Travion Smith murder trial

From left, defense attorney Phoebe Dee sips her coffee as murder defendant Travion Devonte Smith returns from a courtroom recess during the first day's prosecution witness testimony in Wake Superior Court Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Smith is one of three murder defendants in the bludgeoning death of 30 year old Melissa Huggins-Jones in her north Raleigh apartment in May 2014.
From left, defense attorney Phoebe Dee sips her coffee as murder defendant Travion Devonte Smith returns from a courtroom recess during the first day's prosecution witness testimony in Wake Superior Court Tuesday, February 2, 2016. Smith is one of three murder defendants in the bludgeoning death of 30 year old Melissa Huggins-Jones in her north Raleigh apartment in May 2014. hlynch@newsobserver.com

Inclement weather caused Wake County court officials to reschedule closing arguments in the Travion Smith capital murder trial until Tuesday.

Prosecutors rested their case Friday with testimony from the medical examiner, who described the 18 injuries that Melissa Huggins-Jones suffered on May 13, 2013, the night before she was found dead inside her North Hills apartment.

Huggins-Jones, a mother of two, had moved to the Triangle to start anew after splitting up with her husband in Tennessee.

Smith, 23, was one of three arrested more than a week after the death of Huggins-Jones was discovered by a carpenter working at a nearby construction site.

Huggins-Jones suffered 12 wounds to the head and face and six on her upper torso, according to Dr. Lauren Scott, the medical examiner who testified at the trial late Thursday and Friday morning.

The wounds, Scott said, were likely caused by sharp objects and blunt force trauma.

Prosecutors have contended that Smith and Raymond Lee Anthony, a co-defendant who already has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the case, struck Huggins-Jones with a blunt object, then stabbed her repeatedly.

Smith's defense team has disputed those claims.

Though Smith acknowledged breaking into cars that day with Anthony, his attorneys have said he did not kill Huggins-Jones.

The medical examiner said Friday that some of the wounds and bruises on Huggins-Jones’ lower body could have been wounds from defending herself, but it was difficult to know for certain.

Scott also testified that the wounds likely were caused by two different objects, and that Huggins-Jones died from “a combination” of all the injuries.

Her death from loss of blood could have happened within several minutes or hours, Scott said.

Smith, who has paid close attention to the forensic evidence prosecutors have presented this week, told Judge Paul Ridgeway on Friday that he would not testify in his defense. His defense team told Ridgeway that they did not plan to present evidence in their case.

Because of that, Jonathan Broun, a member of the defense team, will get the last word with the jury before the six men and six women begin their deliberations.

Anne Blythe: 919-836-4948, @AnneBlythe1

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