By Kent Gray
Triplicate staff writer
Defendant Robert Allen Wigley removed the heart from murder victim Camillia Randall before her body was dumped, according to testimony from a former inmate at Del Norte County jail.
The surprise testimony came near the end of the day after District Attorney Mike Riese called prosecution witness David Bowdish Jr. to the stand.
Riese asked Bowdish, who was housed in a cell near Wigley at the jail in 2002, if the suspect said anything to him about mutilation found on Randall's body.
"He said something to do with the heart about removing it from the body," Bowdish replied.
"Did he say anything else about the heart ...?" Riese asked.
"Just that he had removed the heart from Randall's body," said Bowdish.
Wigley, 37, is on trial for the first-degree murder of Randall. The victim was hitchhiking through Crescent City from Ashland, Ore,. to Guerneville, Calif., on Oct. 26, 1994. Her mutilated body was found four days later dumped in a remote area of Stout Grove off Howland Hill Road.
Wigley was arrested in 2001 when the California Department of Justice made a DNA match between the suspect and semen found on Randall's body.
The defendant has never denied he had sex with Randall before her death, but he has insisted it was consensual. Through a taped interview played in court, Wigley said his then-wife Marie Biggers killed Randall after he had sex with the 18-year-old hitchhiker.
The defendant has also insisted mutilation found to Randall's body, which consists of a hole in the left side of her chest where her heart and left lung were removed, and a denuded left arm, was not done by him but is probably the result of bear activity in Stout Grove.
Bowdish testified he spent nine months at the the Del Norte County jail for battery and arson charges. Some of that time he spent adjacent to Wigley's cell, he said.
Bowdish said he had difficulty remembering everything the defendant told him about Randall's death.
"There are so many types of versions that he gave me while I was in there," Bowdish said in response to Riese's questions. "His story changed so much it's hard to remember what he said."
Bowdish said there are three main versions about Randall's demise that Wigley explained to him. One version is similar to the defendant's account that was played in court. In this account, Wigley said he and his then-wife were alone with Randall the night she died.
In the two other versions, according to Bowdish, the defendant said there was an unnamed third perpetrator a man who was present.
"The first time, he said it was him, his ex-wife and another gentleman," said Bowdish. "The three had sex with Randall, beat Randall, afterward had more sex, and then Wigley and another gentleman he never said who the other gentleman was took Randall to Stout Grove."
Bowdish said the other version that included three people had a somewhat altered timing of events.
In further testimony, the witness said the defendant told him about plans he devised for escaping from the jail. Wigley is also on trial for plotting an escape attempt involving the murder of a deputy.
During Wigley's preliminary hearing last year, the defendant said the alleged escape plan was a fabrication by inmate David Anderson Jr. Anderson apparently told investigators he was enlisted by Wigley to shoot a bailiff while the defendant was being transported to court, and then aid Wigley in the escape.
Bowdish, however, testified he heard about the plan from both Anderson and Wigley in jail in the spring of 2002. Bowdish also testified Wigley told him about two other escape plans.
One elaborate plan, according to Bowdish, involved the defendant "taking out" a guard in a room outside the view of jail cameras, changing clothes with the guard, and making his escape in deputy clothing.
Bowdish testified for approximately 30 minutes before the end of the session yesterday. Wigley, who is acting as his own attorney, has yet to cross-examine Bowdish.
The remainder of the day yesterday was spent with the cross-examination of Sergeant Gene McManus of the Del Norte County Sheriff's Department.
McManus, who was the lead investigator on the case for a time, was presented by Riese mainly as an expert witness regarding injuries found on Randall's body.
Wigley tried throughout the day to question McManus about his investigation. Nearly all of those questions were successfully objected to by Riese.
"Your honor, I think we're getting past the point of stupidity here," Wigley said in frustration after a litany of objections.
"Past the point of stupidity? That's possible," Judge Robert Weir replied.
Although Wigley successfully challenged McManus about his differing opinion of defense wounds found on Randall's arm, of which pathologist Ken Falconer said he couldn't make a determination, the witness did not budge on his insistence that animals did not ravage the body.
"Can you say definitively Camillia Randall's left arm was not eaten by a bear?" Wigley asked.
"As I have said before, it appears to be cut," McManus replied. "Not bitten, not clawed or torn, and I have to go with that."
Through questioning, Wigley asserted that animal hairs found on Randall's torso were indications of bear activity at the Stout Grove recovery scene.
"The animal hair on her body could have been obtained anywhere," McManus replied. "It could have been obtained from a dog earlier in the day."
Forensic experts during the trial testified they did not analyze the hair to determine what animal it may have come from.
Wigley then pressed McManus about the relatively small amount of blood found on Randall's body, in respect to her wounds. The defendant asked if he would expect to find more had she been transported to the scene with massive injuries.
"Blood on the body? It would depend on whether the perpetrator washed the body ..." McManus began to say.
"Boy, you've got an excuse for everything," Wigley interrupted.
Bowdish is scheduled to resume his testimony at 9 a.m. today.