Bill Boychuk is accused of pushing his pregnant wife, Karen, from abridge on the Cary Parkway on New Year's Eve 1995. Prosecutor Thomas Fordcontends that Boychuk then walked to where his wife lay injured and inflictedfour fatal blows to her skull.
But Boychuk's attorney, Roger Smith, told jurors in opening statementsMonday that Karen and Bill Boychuk were struck by a hit-and-run driverand that Bill Boychuk tried to help his wife.
Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty for Boychuk ifhe is convicted of first-degree murder.
According to brief opening statements, Bill and Karen Boychuk were walkingalong the Cary Parkway on a foggy New Year's Eve after Bill Boychuk lockedhis keys in the couple's car, which was parked at nearby subdivision. Thecouple were walking home to retrieve a spare set of keys.
Smith said his client was knocked unconscious by a hit-and-run driver,accounting for the time lapse between the time that Karen Boychuk was injured,about 7 p.m., and the time that her husband went to get help, about 8:30or 9 p.m.
"He got up to help his wife," Smith told jurors. "His arm and leg werehurting badly."
One of the first witnesses called was Thomas Austin, a neighbor whofound Bill Boychuk on the sidewalk, crying and disoriented, saying thathe and Karen had been struck by a car. Austin scrambled down an embankmentand approached Karen Boychuk's body cautiously. She showed no signs oflife and Austin said he feared the worst.
Karen Boychuk's body was found 40 feet below the bridge, on a greenway.At the time of her death, she was four months pregnant.
Police suspected foul play from the start because it was clear she hadbeen hit in the head, as well as badly hurt by the fall.
Neighbors told police the couple fought frequently. They had marriedin July 1995 after dating a few months. One neighbor told police she hearda woman scream about the time the Boychuks were out walking.
Karen Boychuk, 31, was a lawyer who grew up in Wilson. Her husband,33 at the time of his wife's death, was a graduate student in the UNC-ChapelHill business school. They lived at the Hermitage at Beechtree apartments.
According to Smith, the Boychuks met when he responded to her personalad in The Independent, and he proposed to her about a month later.
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