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Defendant’s mother jailed as Kelly murder retrial begins

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | 10:19 p.m. CST; updated 6:47 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — The mother of a Columbia man charged with murder was held in contempt of court Wednesday after shouting at a witness during her son’s trial at the Boone County Courthouse.

“You’re a damn liar,” shouted Darlene Midgyett after witness Angela Young pointed out Travis Midgyett, 28, as the man who sat with her outside of Carlos Kelly’s apartment the night Kelly was killed.

Kelly, 34, was beaten to death in his west Columbia apartment in March 2006. His girlfriend, Teisha Moody, told police three men forced their way into the home on March 29, 2006, while she and Kelly were partying. Young, who is Moody’s cousin, and a friend had left to get food shortly before the intruders arrived. Moody said the intruders bound her and Kelly with duct tape and demanded drugs and money and then ransacked the home. When Kelly refused to tell the men where to find drugs or money in the home, one of the men struck him on the head with a landscaping timber.

When Young and her friend returned, they saw two men outside the home, she said. Young testified she saw one of the men holding a gun. She said Moody called police from a nearby gas station after the men left.

Columbia police Officer Jason Baillargeon, the first officer on the scene, testified Wednesday that he found Kelly lying on the living room floor in a fetal position with blood streaming out of his ear.

Three men — Midgyett, Rodney Cunningham, 30, and Felson Barney, 29 — were charged in the slaying. But the jury in Midgyett’s trial in March deadlocked, and charges against Barney were dropped after a witness recanted his statement. Cunningham was found guilty of first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree murder by a Buchanan County jury in May.

Midgyett’s second trial on charges of first-degree attempted robbery and second-degree murder started Tuesday in the Boone County Courthouse.

Court bailiffs escorted Darlene Midgyett out of the courtroom while she continued to yell. She returned — emotional and crying ­— to the courtroom at the request of Boone County Presiding Judge Gene Hamilton. When asked by the judge why she made the comments, she said Young couldn’t positively identify her son because “she was on dope when the whole thing happened.”

Hamilton found Darlene Midgyett in contempt of court and ordered her to serve five days in the Boone County Jail. She was taken into custody.

Cunningham is expected to testify against Travis Midgyett.

Christopher Slusher, Midgyett’s defense attorney, told the jury during his opening statement that Cunningham is motivated to testify against Midgyett because of a plea deal the state offered him.

Slusher questioned Moody and Young’s ability to recall the details of the slaying, saying that both women admitted to being drug users and to using cocaine that night. But Young said the viciousness of that night’s events made it easy to recall what happened.

“When you’re in a house with three people and two guns are being waved around and somebody’s dead, you’re not high anymore,” Young said.

Slusher also challenged Moody’s identification of Midgyett, which was a critical component in Midgyett’s first trial. Moody testified Wednesday that she had only seen Midgyett’s “sleepy, lazy” eyes as she peeked through the blinds before Midgyett forced his way into the apartment. Moody identified Midgyett days later after seeing his mug shot in a newspaper and reported her discovery to a detective investigating the case, she testified.

Testimony in the case was expected to continue Thursday in the Boone County Courthouse.


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