In a murder trial expected to feature what the lead prosecutor described as "an overwhelming avalanche of circumstantial evidence and expert testimony," jurors heard from no "CSI"-type scientists on Tuesday.
They spent the first day of trial listening to witnesses lay out the basics of Charlene Hummert's March 19, 2004, slaying.
Those witnesses included police officers, two of the victim's siblings and employees of the funeral home that handled Charlene Hummert's arrangements.
Her husband, Brian David Hummert, 55, is charged with first- and third-degree murder as well as related offenses.
It's his second trial. The first ended in October 2006 with a first-degree murder conviction, but was overturned on appeal.
Marital trouble: He said the Hummerts' "was a marriage in trouble" and that Brian Hummert told investigators he and his wife hadn't had sex in two months. But his semen was found in her underpants taken from her dead body, Barker told jurors.
Charlene Hummert, 48, formerly of Boeing Road in Fairview Township, was strangled to death. Barker said the murder weapon is a red plastic-coated dog cable found in the family home that Brian Hummert had rigged up to restrain their dog.
"She's murdered at home with the dog cable and she is dragged out of the house ... to the back of her Land Rover and driven to the Giant ... where the defendant was at 6:30 a.m. (March 20, 2004)," Barker said.
Charlene Hummert's body was found stuffed in the cargo area of her Land Rover on March 21, 2004, the evening her husband reported her missing. The SUV was parked in the lot of Giant Food Store at 130 Old York Road in Fairview Township.
Stalker? According to Barker, Brian Hummert told investigators his wife had been depressed and had been drinking, something her family disputes. He also suggested perhaps her
But Barker said Brian Hummert was the stalker, and that stalker letters were found on his home computer.
Defense attorney Vincent Quinn urged jurors to "keep an open mind" about the case and said the upcoming testimony of the "so-called experts" is "nothing more than guesswork."
Fairview Township Police Lt. Jason Loper, who at the time was a detective, testified that when he told Brian Hummert that Charlene had been found dead, the new widower appeared very calm.
At times, Loper said, "he seemed to be crying, but there were no tears that were visible."
'Very cold': Hummert's lack of emotion was a theme among Tuesday's witnesses.
Brenda Feaser and Dennis Meyer, two of Charlene Hummert's siblings, told jurors Hummert didn't seem shaken by his wife's death.
"There was not a tear," Feaser testified. "He was cold. Very cold."
Feaser also said because she'd been told her sister's death was considered suspicious, she asked Hummert whether an open-casket viewing was appropriate.
How did he know? Hummert told her, "Her face was red," according to Feaser; when she asked why, "He just kind of clammed up and said, 'I don't know.'"
But Rebecca Donahue-Nedd, who was an employee of Neill Funeral Home in Camp Hill, testified earlier that Hummert hadn't seen his wife's body at that point.
Donahue-Nedd said she also noticed the widower was "withdrawn and cold, like emotionless."
Eye contact: Loper testified he spent four hours interviewing Hummert on March 23, 2004. Toward the end of that interview, Loper asked Hummert if he had anything to do with his wife's death.
"He looked me directly in the eye and said, 'I did not kill my wife. I love my wife,'" Loper testified, adding it "almost sounded rehearsed."
Loper also said the only times Hummert made eye contact with him during the four hours was when he made that statement and when he was talking about his work, which he appeared to be proud of.
Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday morning.
-- Reach Elizabeth Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org, 505-5429 or twitter.com/ydcrimetime.