Officers testify in Fry trial, describe crime scene

BY OLIVIA MORAN | MARCH 12, 2009 7:27 AM

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An Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation agent said Curtis Fry was shocked, scared, and shaking when officials told him he was suspected of killing an elderly man while intoxicated last year.

Prosecutors played Fry’s February 2008 interview tape at the third day of his second-degree murder trial Wednesday, which showed Fry dropping his head to the table before crying.

Special Agent Darrell Simmons told Fry at the Feb. 8 interview — a day after he’s suspected of killing 75-year-old Patrick McEwen — that his clothes and belongings were found in McEwen’s apartment where a neighbor found him beaten to death.

“I don’t know why I’d do this. I don’t remember anything,” Fry said in the video. “I’ve never been a violent person.”

He told Simmons there were parts of the night he couldn’t remember, saying he’s a happy drunk but rarely drinks.

Witnesses said the group visited four Iowa City bars into the early morning hours of Feb. 7, 2008, to celebrate Fry’s 21st birthday. Fry told Simmons earlier in the interview his friends estimated he drank 13 or 14 shots that night, in addition to drinking some beer.

Around bar close that night, Fry went missing for about a half hour, when he allegedly broke into McEwen’s apartment at 513 S. Van Buren St. and killed him.

Iowa City police Officer Kevin Berg testified Fry’s brother, Cory Fry, flagged him down at approximately 1:55 a.m., telling him Curtis Fry was missing.

In a 911 call played from Cory Fry, he told dispatchers his brother took off running after they left the downtown bars. He said he last saw Curtis Fry running up Van Buren Street.

“I tried to catch him,” Cory Fry told the dispatcher. “He’s drunk.”

Berg testified Cory Fry flagged him down again at about 2:30 a.m., informing him Curtis Fry had been found.

Cory Fry and others discovered Curtis Fry outside 513 Bowery St., where they were staying that night — just down the street from McEwen’s apartment — with two unfamiliar coats wrapped around his body. He was wearing no pants.

DCI criminalist Michael Halverson said he tested a pair of Aeropostal jeans, an Aeropostal coat, and a pink and green button-up shirt found at McEwen’s apartment that night for blood. Blood on the jeans matched the DNA of McEwen, and blood on the shirt matched the DNA of McEwen and Fry, Halverson testified.

Simmons said he drove 30 miles to Fry’s apartment in Wilton before Fry’s interview, when Simmons identified himself and asked Fry if he was missing anything.

“He advised me he was missing his wallet and some clothing,” Simmons testified. “I asked if they’d be willing to come to the Iowa City Police Department. They voluntarily followed us to the [station].”

Iowa City police Officer Steven Duffy, who investigated the scene at McEwen’s apartment, described more than a dozen photos displayed on two television sets in the courtroom. The photos depicted blood spots outside and inside the apartment, McEwen’s door that appeared to be broken into, Fry’s wallet found on a dresser, and numerous bloody articles of clothing.

Duffy also photographed McEwen’s body. McEwen was positioned between the bathtub and the toilet in his compact bathroom, his hand still gripping the toilet seat. The toilet bowl was filled with blood. Blood splattered the towels and shower curtain and streamed down McEwen’s face.
His nose was swollen and bloody, and his left eye was black.

Autopsy results revealed McEwen died from numerous injuries, including a fractured rib and brain bleeding.

Police charged Fry with second-degree murder, a Class B felony. If convicted, he faces 50 years in prison. His defense attorneys filed an intoxication defense last year.

Trial will resume today at 9 a.m. It is expected to end today or Friday.

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