Murder trial focuses on complexities of 2004 Norwich fatal beating case
Within hours of Eugene Mallove's brutal beating death in 2004, Norwich police were at the apartment of two people they eventually would charge with murder. But a phone call from New Britain police about two men with blood on their clothing who were picked up in a car stolen from Groton threw investigators off the trail for more than four years.
Joseph Reilly and Gary McAvoy would be charged with Mallove's murder, only to be exonerated after a defense attorney uncovered a clerical error that made it appear the men were tied to the case through physical evidence.
Detective Sgt. Corey Poore, testifying Thursday on the third day of Mozzelle Brown's murder trial in New London Superior Court, introduced some of the Mallove case's complexities to a jury in New London Superior Court. Brown, along with his cousin Chad Schaffer and Schaffer's girlfriend, Candace Foster, are accused of killing Mallove, a prominent scientist, in the driveway of Mallove's childhood home at 119 Salem Turnpike on May 14, 2004.
Poore said he had met Foster and Schaffer while conducting bike patrols on Lake Street, which was a hotspot for drug activity in the city.
"They were always engaging," he testified. "They were interested in what we did."
But when Schaffer was with his cousin Mozzelle, "his demeanor became very anti-police," Poore testified. Schaffer would "talk trash" about the cops while Brown "was just kind of stand-offish," Poore testified.
Poore interacted with Schaffer and Foster again during a domestic dispute at 119 Salem Turnpike. The couple lived there with Schaffer's mother and stepfather, Pat and Roy Anderson, who rented the home from Mallove. While working at the Mallove crime scene, Poore testified that he recalled he had arrested Schaffer there a few months earlier for assaulting Foster.
Poore and Detective Al Costa tracked down Foster and Schaffer at their apartment on Chestnut Street and knocked on their door at 5 a.m., which was about six hours after Mallove's body was discovered by a prospective tenant.
Foster answered the door, and Poore testified that he specifically asked for Schaffer and that he was not convinced when Schaffer told him where he had been that night.
"I asked to see his clothing," Poore said.
Schaffer took him into the upstairs bathroom and pointed out the clothes he said he had worn the previous day. There was nothing unusual about the clothing, Poore testified. He said he didn't notice any unusual smells in the apartment, even though according to previous testimony, Foster would eventually admit to bleaching Schaffer's clothing that night.
The detectives left the apartment after about a half-hour and didn't question the couple further for several years.
Poore said that based on his rapport with Foster and Schaffer, he was assigned to help reinvestigate the Mallove case in 2009 after the charges against the other two men were dismissed. When the trial broke for the day Thursday, he had started telling the jury how the investigators developed information that led to Foster being taken into a witness protection program.
Schaffer, Foster and Brown were charged with Mallove's murder in 2010, but the state's case relies heavily on Foster, who gave several different versions of the crime to police before telling what they say is the truth.
Foster eventually told police that Schaffer and Brown, upset after hearing Mallove was throwing out Schaffer's parents' belongings after the Andersons were evicted for non-payment of rent, went to the Mallove home and attacked him. Foster said they returned with her later and, as Mallove lay in the driveway pleading for help, forced her to participate in the beating.
Foster is expected to testify next week and likely will face an intense cross-examination by Brown's attorney, Richard C. Marquette.
Schaffer, who pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in exchange for a 16-year prison sentence, has been subpoenaed to testify but is seeking to suppress his testimony, claiming, through his attorney, that it would be self-incriminating and would jeopardize a pending appeal.
Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed will hear arguments today to determine whether Schaffer is forced to take the witness stand.
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