Video, neighbors, autopsy focus of Lilly trial Tuesday
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - : “I think one of my neighbors is dead, laying in his yard...he’s covered in blood.”
That was from one of two 911 calls made after the death of Travis Peters on June 18, 2019.
The man accused of killing him-Chester Lilly-was seen in a video shown jurors in his murder trial Tuesday, running to his home, reportedly in the minutes after Peters’ death.
Still shots taken from the video show Lilly holding a knife, with blood on his hands.
Emily Patrick, the neighbor whose home security system was the source of that video saw Lilly and a woman, believed to be his fiance, leave the home, in a manner she hadn’t seen before.
“That’s when I saw Lilly’s truck back out of the driveway-erratically,” Patrick recalled.
Patrick had difficulty identifying a clean-shaven Lilly in the courtroom, prompting his attorneys to make a motion to have her testimony stricken from the trial record. Wood County Circuit Judge Robert Waters denied the motion.
Adrienne Jones, Lilly’s fiance, the only other person besides Lilly and Peters involved in the argument leading to Peters’ death, said she could not recall the events of that day, including a statement she later made to Parkersburg Police. Jones said she suffers from PTSD, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorder, as well as complications from an overdose.
Jones was asked whether she would lie for Lilly’s benefit. She said she would not.
An autopsy determined Peters died from multiple stab wounds, some as deep as nine inches.
Dr. Jacqueline Benjamin, who performed the autopsy, said some of Peters’ wounds indicated he tried to defend hmself. But Dr. Benjamin, upon questioning from Lilly’s attorney, Beth Lebow, stopped short of saying Peters was the victim of a crime.
: “Given the circumstances surrounding the death, homicide was the most appropriate banner,” Dr. Benjamin said. “I don’t determine whether a crime occurred or not.”
Kyle Barnett of the Parkersburg Police Department, the lead detective for the case, spent most of Tuesday afternoon on the stand, explaining the video as well as the steps taken to secure the crime scene and collect blood samples: a task complicated that day by a heavy downpour.
There’s video of the moments leading up to the confrontation between Chester Lilly and Travis Peters on June 18, 2019-but not of the stabbing that left Peters dead and covered with blood.
Says Heather Nicholson, Assistant Wood County Prosecutor: “The primary focus is on the final 37 seconds of that argument.”
Prosecutors say several neighbors heard parts of the confrontation. One saw Lilly and his fiancee, Adrienne Jones, leave the scene.
“She had seen the defendant back up several times in the past, and he usually took more care to do so,” Nicholson said in opening statements in Lilly’s trial Monday. “But not on June 18, 2019. He backed up quickly, and was off.”
Lilly’s attorney, Beth Lebow, says he will testify that Peters, who they add was on meth, was the aggressor, and that Lilly stabbed him in self-defense.
“Mr. Lilly steps off his property, out of the frame, as you will see,” said Lebow, who along with Attorney Joe Munoz, is representing Lilly. :And immediately, Mr. Peters attacks him. He chest-bumped him, hit him in the face, and then pulled a knife on Mr. Lilly.”
Lilly is charged with first-degree murder. Judge Robert Waters told the jury after it was seated Monday that if it convicts Lilly as charged, it then would consider whether he would also receive mercy, meaning he could be considered for parole after he serves 15 years of his sentence.
The murder trial of Chester Lilly is underway in Wood County Circuit Court.
A jury was seated in the afternoon of Monday, July 26. Opening statements began shortly after.
Lilly, from Parkersburg, was indicted in September 2019 on a murder charge in connection with the death of 40-year-old Travis Peters.
Police said Lilly stabbed Peters multiple times during an argument in June of 2019. Peters’ body was found on the ground next to his home on the 2800-block of Avery Street.
Lilly was set to go on trial on that charge in October of 2020. Judge Robert Waters halted the trial and declared a mistrial on what was to be its first day.
Chester’s trial was also postponed in April 2021 because he was exposed to COVID-19 while at the North Central Regional Jail.
WTAP has a reporter in the courtroom for the trial and will update as it proceeds.
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