A murder trial in Belmont County began Wednesday, as jurors try to determine who killed 69-year-old Julian Townsend of Wegee Road.
Joe Barton of Glencoe is charged with the crime.
Townsend’s trailer blew up and burned to the ground on October 15th, 2012. Inside, he had been beaten, shot, stabbed and dismembered before the fire started.
Steve Williams took his dog for his morning walk that day. He noticed some firewood had been chopped outside Julian Townsend’s trailer. He also saw Townsend’s car idling in the driveway.
“Yes I did, I did see somebody standing there, but I could only see them from the waist down,” said neighbor Steve Williams.
“Did you think that that was Mr. Townsend,” asked Asst. Prosecutor Kevin Flanagan.
“No. I could tell it was a young fellow,” said Williams.
On his way back, Williams witnessed Townsend’s trailer blowing up.
“I heard a big explosion. And I turned around and I seen black smoke pouring, come pouring out of where the trailer set,” said Williams.
As smoke poured out, Townsend’s car was still running, this time with someone driving.
“When he got to me, whoever it was driving it covered their face up and they went east toward Route 7 as fast as the old car could go,” said Williams.
He said he knew it wasn’t Townsend, it was a younger man.
Townsend’s daughter described her father as unable to do physical work.
“He was small, he weighed 108 pounds, very frail,” said daughter Misty Whitlach.
“Did you tell one of the deputies that your dad had a hard time getting around and that he was a hard core drinker,” asked Barton’s defense attorney Frank Pierce.
“My mom shot herself when I was eight years old and he has drank at night ever since then,” said Whitlach.
She said he drank more as the years went by.
They played the 911 tape and heard Williams tell the dispatcher that his neighbor’s house blew up, and that a man covering his face was driving away.
The trial continues Thursday.