GALLIPOLIS — The first day of trial against a Gallia County man accused in a 2012 murder began on Monday afternoon in the Gallia County Common Pleas Courtroom.
Semaki G. Corfias, 52, Gallipolis, appeared before a jury on Monday in relation to the death of Thomas Marr, on February 22, 2012.
The defendant, who pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and one count of tampering with evidence last September, has maintained his innocence since his initial appearance before Judge D. Dean Evans in this case.
Marr, 29, who was found dead in his home at 1607 Ohio 7 North by first responders late on the morning of February 22, 2012, died as a result of a stab wound to the chest.
The morning of the alleged incident, the Gallia County 911 Center was contacted and it was reported that Marr had been found in the home and was having trouble breathing.
The victim was found unresponsive by emergency responders after they were dispatched to the scene just prior to 12 p.m. on February 22.
Corfias, who was interviewed as a witness in this case by investigators, was later identified as the only suspect following the lengthy investigation that followed the incident.
He was arrested on September 8 of last year in an unrelated case and was subsequently arraigned on murder charges in relation to Marr’s death.
The defendant has remained in the Gallia County Jail since his arrest last year.
During day one of the trial, the prosecution, lead by Gallia County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Mulford, called Deputy Montgomery County Coroner Robert Shott, M.D., Gallia County Coroner Daniel Whiteley, M.D., and Sgt. Eric Werry of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office to the stand.
Shott, who preformed the autopsy on Marr, and Whiteley, who responded to the scene of Marr’s death on the afternoon on February 22, both discussed the medical findings surrounding Marr’s death.
Whiteley reported as to the cause and manner of Marr’s death last February.
“The wound actually penetrated the lining of the heart. It penetrated the aorta, which is the main blood vessel coming out of the heart,” Whiteley said.
Bleeding from this small puncture flooded the sack surrounding the heart, thereby causing a condition known as “cardiac tamponade,” according to Whiteley — a condition caused by the accumulation of fluid in the area surrounding the heart that limits the heart’s normal range of motion.
Whiteley further reported that, while it is possible that a person could survive for a period of time after such a wound is inflicted, it is most probable that survival time would be in the range of 15 to 20 minutes for a person suffering from such a stab wound.
Whiteley further surmised, as was stated in his report of the incident, that the time of death would have been approximately 11 a.m. that morning.
As to the manner of death, Whiteley ruled out an accidental death, as well as the possibility of a suicide due the lack of any blood around Marr’s body, as well as the lack of weapon at the scene that could have created such a stab wound.
“I really don’t feel like this is a self-inflicted injury, so the only thing we have left is an injury inflicted by someone else, and that is called homicide,” Whiteley said.
Due his observations of the body and his observations of the crime scene, Whiteley fixed the cause of death as a sharp force injury to the chest and the manner of death as homicide.
Upon cross examination by Wallen, Whiteley further discussed a smaller puncture wound that was found on the lateral aspect of Marr’s left arm, a wound which he could not decisively say was “defensive wound.”
Upon questioning by Wallen, Whiteley again discussed the probability of Marr’s ability to commit suicide on the date in question.
Whiteley, who had stated, for a number of reasons, including the victim’s drug levels at the time of his death as outlined in the toxicology report, told the jury that he believed it would have been “highly unlikely” for Marr to have committed suicide, although, it was still a possibility.
Wallen further asked the coroner if he observed any other sharp objects or instruments in the area surrounding Marr’s body that could have inflicted such a wound.
“I can’t be 100 percent sure, but I would say, ‘no,’” Whitely stated.
Last to testify on Monday was road patrol supervisor Sgt. Eric Werry of the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office.
Werry, who responded to the scene of the alleged murder shortly after paramedics arrived on scene on February 22 last year, reported on his observations of the crime scene as well as his interactions with the defendant on the day of the incident.
Most notably, Werry reported that, approximately five minutes after his arrival on scene, he was approached by Corfias — whose residence is located close by — who seemed “angry” and “agitated,” according to Werry.
“He walked up to me and asked me if Thomas Marr was dead, and he pointed at my chest and actually touched my chest and said, ‘he was stabbed right there in the heart,” Werry stated. “He said that we should be looking for some drug dealers because he was into drugs.”
After being prompted by Mulford, Werry read to the jury Corfias’ voluntary statement as written by the defendant shortly after his first encounter with the deputy.
In his statement, as relayed by Werry, Corfias wrote that he had gone to Marr’s residence that morning to check on his niece, Alexis.
Corfias wrote that he then found his niece asleep in her bed and the victim asleep on the couch.
After trying and failing to rouse Marr, Corfias wrote that he believed that the victim was high on drugs and had overdosed.
The defendant then wrote in his statement that he immediately contacted authorities and even attempted to perform CPR on Marr prior to the arrival of emergency responders.
“I did my best, 100 percent, to help,” Corfias wrote.
Werry further reported that, while he did not help to process the crime scene, he did observe a syringe with brown residue located on a television near where Marr’s body was found.
During cross examination, Wallen asked Werry to further describe Corfias’ demeanor when he first encountered him at the scene, and, upon questioning, stated that it was possible that Corfias could have been angry or agitated because first responders did not, in the defendant’s opinion, arrive “on time.”
The jury trial in the case against Corfias will continue at 9 a.m. on Tuesday in the common pleas courtroom.