The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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March 20, 2014

Jurors acquit defendant in Anderson fatal stabbing

PINEVILLE, Mo. — The shadow of a cloud lifted from Boyd Marcum’s face Friday as Circuit Judge Tim Perigo read the jury’s verdict.

Innocent, six men and six women had decided after almost six hours of deliberation and a couple of preliminary reports to the bench that they might be hopelessly split as to Marcum’s guilt or innocence in the fatal stabbing of 29-year-old Kevin Anderson on Sept. 30 of last year.

Innocent of second-degree murder and innocent of each of the other two verdict options jurors were asked to consider: voluntary and involuntary manslaughter.

In the end, lacking evidence to the contrary, jurors were forced to accept what Marcum told them.

“Mr. Marcum, did you stab Kevin Anderson?” Prosecutor Jonathan Pierce had asked, dramatically demanding an answer of the defendant at the end of trial testimony Thursday.

“Yes, I did,” Marcum replied, quickly adding: “In self-defense.”

Marcum, 30, the last witness to testify at the three-day trial in Pineville, told jurors that he had never met Anderson before he showed up at the home of Craig Ruble and Megan Banks in the McDonald County town of Anderson the day before he stabbed him.

Marcum, his wife and three children had been staying with Ruble and Banks for a week or more while they tried to get back on their feet. Anderson had crashed overnight on a mattress in the couple’s garage and was there again the next night when a friend of the Marcums, Brittany Wilkins, stopped in to see them.

Anderson was a father of three who had separated from his wife several months previously. He was working at the time as a concrete finisher, and Ruble considered him his best friend.

The defendant denied having had any disputes with Anderson that day, despite the prosecution’s assertions that there had been escalating tensions between the two men, stemming from Anderson’s drinking and his “flirtations” with Wilkins and Ashley Marcum, and from Anderson having taken it upon himself earlier in the night to let Marcum know that Ruble and Banks were beginning to feel that he and his wife and children had overstayed their welcome.

Marcum denied that the suggestion that his family needed to leave had been an issue, testifying that he actually agreed with that assessment and was prepared to move on.

“He drank a lot, but he was real funny and was telling jokes out in the yard,” Marcum said when asked what his attitude had been toward Anderson that night.

He said Anderson swatted Wilkins on her behind while goofing around, and he could tell Wilkins was becoming increasingly annoyed by Anderson’s behavior as the night wore on. Anderson also had become “kind of agitated” with Marcum at one point when Marcum told him to quiet down, Marcum said. But, later, he and Wilkins joined Anderson on the mattress out in the garage to smoke cigarettes.

Ruble and Banks had gone to bed by then, and Ashley Marcum came out and gave her husband a look that it was time for him to come to bed as well in the living room that had become their makeshift bedroom while they were staying there. Marcum said he got up to go inside and told Wilkins: “If you’re coming, come on because I’m going to lock the door.”

Wilkins followed him inside, prefatory to finding her own way home, he said. He had taken off his boots and was preparing to lie down on the couch with his wife when they heard Anderson come storming in through the back door, yelling and cussing.

Marcum said Anderson came at him and shoved his head into a windowsill behind the couch. He said he stood up and started toward the front door, telling Anderson they were not going to fight in the house. But the other man told him they were and shoved him against the doorway, pinning Marcum’s left arm beneath his right armpit while grabbing him by the throat with his left hand.

Marcum testified that Anderson bent him back over the arm of the couch and was cutting off his air supply to the point where he couldn’t breathe and was seeing flashes of light. He said he did not know how long Anderson had choked him before he reached into his pants pocket with his free right hand, grabbed his pocketknife, thumbed it open and brought it up into Anderson’s chest.

He said Anderson let go of his throat almost immediately, moving his hand to his own chest reflexively and exclaiming: “You stabbed me!” Anderson then went into Ruble and Banks’ bedroom and made a similar declaration to them before stumbling from the house bleeding.

Marcum said Ruble came out of his room headed toward him, and he tried to explain that he was sorry, that he hadn’t meant to harm Anderson. He said he left the house at that point to escape Ruble’s anger and wound up in a neighbor’s driveway.

“So I just kind of stayed in the dark, waiting for the police to show up,” he testified.

The prosecutor tried to convince the jury that Marcum’s actions after the stabbing showed a consciousness of guilt, that he initially fled the scene and that the pocketknife he eventually gave police had been wiped clean of blood. But Marcum denied having made any such effort.

“I didn’t wipe the blood off it, didn’t try to dispose of it,” he said. “Nothing.”

Pierce pointed out during closing arguments that the only witnesses to what happened in the living room other than the defendant — his wife and Wilkins — were predisposed to provide accounts favorable to him. But there were reasons to doubt their accounts, including the photographs that police took of the marks on Marcum’s neck purportedly left by Anderson’s fingers, he said.

“They don’t look very bad to me,” Pierce said. “But I’ll let you decide.”

Defense attorney Marshall Miller told jurors that his client was entitled to protect himself. Under state law, someone who is not the primary aggressor in an altercation and has no previous felony convictions can legally use deadly force to stop a forcible felony.

Miller told jurors that they might not agree with that law or they might think Marcum ultimately will have to answer to a higher authority for taking Anderson’s life. But, from a legal standpoint, he acted within the law, Miller said.

“You’re not required to go through a detailed legal analysis in your mind when someone’s attacking you,” he told the jury.

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