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Jury views more than three hours of interview footage in day 5 of Wheeler trial

The trial of a New Windsor man accused of conspiring with another in the murder of his fiancee resumed Friday morning with witness for the prosecution Cpl. William Murray of the Carroll County Sheriff's Office continuing his testimony.

For more than two and a half hours, Deputy State's Attorney Edward Coyne and Senior Assistant State's Attorney Allan Culver played video footage of Murray interviewing Bret Michael Wheeler on the night of Aug. 8, 2016, and into the early morning of Aug. 9, 2016. Wheeler is charged as a co-conspirator to Robert Theodore Bosley, convicted of first-degree murder and other charges earlier this year, related to the death of Kandi Gerber, Wheeler's fiancee.

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Wheeler, formerly of the 2000 block of Dennings Road, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and accessory after first-degree murder, according to electronic court records.

In the footage, which was paused at the end of the previous day's proceedings before the 12-person jury and Judge Barry Hughes, Wheeler continued to recount his version of the events of Aug. 8, starting with when he returned to 2000 Dennings Road to find Gerber face-down on the floor of the basement where they lived after an altercation with Bosley.

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Wheeler said he tried to calm Bosley down, saying he told him, "You already wrassled her. Let it go."

Then, he said, two other residents of the home, who had been sent away during the altercation, returned. Wheeler left the basement to go talk to them and keep them from becoming involved. When he returned to the basement, he saw Bosley standing over Gerber and saw him cut her throat, he said.

Murray then made Wheeler recount parts of the story, and they hashed through details of the timeline and what actions he and Bosley took.

"It was constantly, 'We're in this together,' " Wheeler, on the video, said Bosley told him.

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He told Murray how the two wrapped Gerber in a tarp and put her in the bed of Wheeler's truck. Wheeler drove, and said Bosley directed him where to go. He told Murray where he had driven, but gave sparse detail about the method by which the body was moved from the bed of the truck to where it was found in weeds near the intersection of Muller Road and Old Washington Road, as was described in testimony by crime scene technicians and detectives.

Wheeler said Bosley directed him to stop farther down the road to dispose of the tarp in a recycling bin, and called his former employer Bradley Merrell to meet them at the home of Bosley's former mother-in-law.

Wheeler said when he met Merrell, Merrell asked "What'd you do?"

Wheeler replied, "We [screwed] up."

While Bosley was talking to his former mother-in-law, Wheeler told Merrell that Bosley had slit Gerber's throat. Bosley returned and directed Wheeler to shower in the house, and he knew at that time that the police would be coming soon, Wheeler said on the video.

During several segments of the video, Wheeler told Murray about his life with Gerber and how they struggled financially and dealt with other stressors.

"No one wants to live in a basement that floods taking care of other people's responsibilities," Wheeler told Murray in the footage.

He also said Gerber had a habit of lying, though he said he believed her motivation was to spend more time with him or avoid disappointing him.

"She loved me more than anyone will ever love me that's not my mother," he said.

The video then cut to footage from shortly after midnight, depicting Wheeler alone in the interview room. He stood up and frantically knocked on the door. After a few moments, Murray answered.

"Is she still alive?" Wheeler asked.

"Well, what do you think?" Murray answered. He entered and sat down in the room. Wheeler begged him to answer.

"Kandi is deceased," Murray replied.

After more questioning, Murray asked Wheeler why he never called 911 if he thought there was any chance Gerber was alive.

"I have no excuse for it," Wheeler replied, rocking back and forth, "I'm sitting here kicking myself in the teeth."

At another point in the footage, Murray asked Wheeler how he responded when Bosley said he would kick Gerber out. "What does one say?" Murray asked.

"I said she needs to stop with the lying," Wheeler replied quietly.

Shortly before 5 a.m., Murray asked how it would sound when he told Gerber's family that Wheeler showed less loyalty to Gerber than Bosley, "a man who he says cut her throat," and never called 911.

"It's not loyalty," Wheeler replied.

"If it's not loyalty, then what?"

"Fear," he said.

When the footage excerpts concluded, Coyne posed direct questions to Murray, including why the detective left the room and re-entered several times during the interview process. Murray said he left the room to communicate with the officer interviewing Bosley and investigators working at multiple involved crime scenes.

During cross examination, Matthew Willamson, one of two attorneys for the defense questioned Murray about the "tactics" he had learned in his interrogation training and whether an interrogator was allowed to lie and purposefully induce emotions in order to gain information from a suspect.

Williamson said Murray "used no short of eight to 10 impressive tactics" on Wheeler during a period of 16 hours and asked whether Wheeler had ever wavered from his story. Murray said that "to some degree" Williamson was correct.

In re-direct questioning, Coyne asked why Murray had replied with "to some degree." Murray said there was some confusion of detail regarding how Wheeler and Bosley allegedly moved Gerber up the basement steps or whether Wheeler checked Gerber for a pulse.

The prosecution then called their only other witness of the day's proceedings, Dr. Melissa Brassell, assistant medical examiner at the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Brassell, who the court agreed to consider an expert in the field of forensic pathology, completed the autopsy of Gerber's body.

During the external autopsy, Brassell observed 12 cutting wounds to the neck, varying in depth; pinpoint hemorrhaging, or escape of blood from a ruptured vessel, in the eyes; and bruises and scrapes on several areas of the body, she testified.

In the internal autopsy, she determined that one of the cuts to the neck had severed the jugular vein, allowing air to enter the lungs and heart, causing the heart to stop and leading to asphyxia. She also observed hemorrhaging between Gerber's skull and scalp caused by blunt force impact.

She said the cause of death was blunt force and sharp force injuries and asphyxia. The manner of death was homicide. She would have been able to conclude this, she testified when asked by Culver, without outside evidence collected by detectives.

The defense then showed four photos from the autopsy that illustrated the wounds to the neck and the hemorrhaging under the scalp.

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Brassell said that the hemorrhaging in Gerber's eyes suggested she had been choked to unconsciousness before her throat was cut. The injury that caused her to stop breathing was the cutting wound that allowed air into the jugular vein.

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Following a short recess, the defense was then allowed to show approximately an hour of additional footage from Wheeler's time in the interview room. The majority depicted Wheeler alone, at some moments crying or resting his head on his hands.

Only one excerpt showed Wheeler speaking to Murray. He told Murray that he wished he could have saved Gerber.

"There is no way I would have have allowed Robert to kill her had I been there," he said.

The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Monday.



410-857-3315

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