Updated: Thursday, 16 Oct 2008, 9:19 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 16 Oct 2008, 9:19 PM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -
Witnesses talked of discovering Julia Dawson's body in a field nearly four years ago, as testimony began in the murder trial of her husband, Tim.
The first witness called was Louis Lincoln, who found Julia Dawson's body along Pierson Road when he was out for a daily walk in January 2005.
"I noticed out of the corner of my eye," Lincoln said. He decided to take a closer look at something he'd missed a few days before. "As I got closer I realized, I thought someone had tossed a mannequin off the side of the road. But as I got closer, I realized it wasn't a mannequin. That was my discovery."
Three witnesses followed, and all noticed something odd along Pierson Road in January 2005. At first, all thought it was trash.
"I couldn't tell what it was," said Phyllis Detmer, who lives near the site. "I thought it was trash someone threw out, cardboard or carpeting. I couldn't really tell."
"The reason it stuck out to me is that I hadn't been up there in a while," said Fred Rozema, a truck driver for Valley City Environmental Services.
Michigan State Police detective Sally Walter, who responded to the scene where Julia Dawson's body was found, testified what she saw and noticed that day.
During her testimony, she showed a belt and underwear that were found near Julia Dawson's body.
Walter also testified she was there when Tim Dawson was informed Julia's body was found. He excused himself, appeared to get sick, but never asked where her body was found or what happened.
In opening statements in the morning, the prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin, laid out a case that included a timeline and the use of a map.
Rollstin painted a picture of a dysfunctional relationship between Tim Dawson and his wife Julia, one that turned abusive. He said Tim was a liar and a controlling man who took matters into his own hands when his wife wanted out of their marriage.
"Tim Dawson decided to kill Julia because he had been through a divorce in the past and it cost him thousand upon thousands of dollars," Rollstin said. "It caused him to go into great debt. It cost him custody of his two children that he had with his first wife."
The defense admits there was strain at times in the relationship, but said evidence will show that the couple was OK.
Defense attorney Chuck Rominger, in his opening statement, said the prosecution's case is base only on circumstantial evidence.
"There's no finding of fibers, there was no finding of hair, there was no finding DNA specimens on anything."
A 15-person jury (including three alternates) was chosen Wednesday. Judge James Redford will preside over the trial, expected to last into late October or early November.
Testimony is set for Friday morning only, then will recess for the weekend.
24 Hour News 8 will continue to follow this trial and have updates as they happen on woodtv.com