Jurors hear from investigators, witness graphic video of North Hills murder scene
Posted February 10
Raleigh, N.C. — Various City-County Bureau of Identification agents took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Travion Smith, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of a mother in her North Hills apartment in May 2013. But so far, there has been no direct link from the murder scene to Smith.
Smith, 23, is one of three people charged in connection to 30-year-old Melissa Huggins-Jones' death and could face the death penalty if convicted.
Huggins-Jones was new to the Triangle, having divorced and moved from Tennessee to an apartment complex off Six Forks Road with her 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Olivia Jones. Her son had stayed behind with his father in Tennessee to finish the school year.
On the morning of May 14, 2013, Hannah wandered out of the apartment and approached a nearby construction crew, asking for help. A construction worker followed the girl back into the apartment and found Huggins-Jones dead in her bed, covered in blood.
An autopsy determined she had died from repeated blows to her head and neck.
On Wednesday, Tracy Gold, one of four CCBI agents that testified, talked in detail about physical evidence she collected and processed from the crime scene.
During cross-examination, she outlined the process she used to collect fingerprints and shoe impressions.
Agent Mike Galloway took the stand and introduced a video he took of the crime scene. The video showed exterior and interior views of Huggins-Jones' apartment. At times, the graphic video caused an emotional reaction from family members and others watching the trial.
CCBI Supervisor Chris Hill also took the stand Wednesday and testified that he collected Huggins-Jones’ clothing, fingerprints, nail clippings and sexual assault kit during the autopsy. He showed the jury Huggins-Jones' bloody shirt and pants she was wearing the night she was killed.
Testimony from Special Agent MacKenzie DeHaan was cut short as the trial recessed at 5 p.m. DeHaan, a forensic biologist, was asked by crime scene investigators to examine various items and samples collected from the scene for DNA evidence.
Ronald Lee Anthony and Sarah Rene Redden are also charged in Huggins-Jones' death. Anthony pleaded guilty in 2015 to first-degree murder, to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison. He may testify against Smith. Redden, of Wake Forest, has not been offered a plea deal, but testified against Smith last week.
The trail resumes as DeHaan takes the stand Thursday at 9:30 a.m.