YREKA — Nearly seven hours after taking the stand in the murder trial against Patricia MacCallum, Jeremiah Hills was excused — but only after a much-contested battle between the prosecution and the defense over his testimony.
Hills had a brief relationship with MacCallum in the months before her husband, Michael Christopher, was shot to death at an Applegate campground, and Hills testified about numerous aspects of his relationship with MacCallum and things she allegedly said in his presence.
Hills said in Siskiyou County Superior Court Wednesday that his relationship with MacCallum had involved submissive and dominant sexual role-play — a partnership he said requires a great deal of trust between the participants.
It was because of that trust, Hills alleged, that MacCallum told him that she would be better off if her husband were dead. He also alleged that MacCallum had asked him whether he knew anyone who would be willing to help her "take care" of her husband, something he said he refused to explore.
Defense attorney William Duncan pointed out what he said were conflicting statements Hills made to police and in court, including the nature of the breakup with MacCallum and MacCallum's alleged death wish for her husband.
Duncan singled out Hills' statement that he believed MacCallum had told him she wanted her husband dead instead of "gone."
Referencing a transcript from an Nov. 21 interview Hills had with detectives, Duncan said, "(Hills' statement) went from 'gone' to 'gone and dead.' "
"It was always 'gone and dead,' —ˆHills said. "She's the one that said that to me."
Duncan questioned Hills' credibility as a witness, suggesting that painkillers he was on at the time of his first interview could have altered his perceptions and statements to police.
Prosecutor Joe Allison asked Hills, "Why shouldn't the jury believe you killed Chris?" Hills replied he did not know where the MacCallums were going camping, he had no way to get there and he was at work.
Later, when Hills said he did not know what time Chris was killed, Duncan asked, "How do you know you were at work if you don't know when Chris was killed?"
After Hills' dismissal from the stand, Allison indicated that testimony from MacCallum's half sister Amber Lubbers was coming soon.
At a preliminary hearing earlier this year, it was Lubbers who testified that she had firsthand knowledge that MacCallum had killed her husband and that she had helped dispose of the body.
In testimony Tuesday, criminalist Thomas Vasquez of the California Department of Justice testified that bullets found at the scene were consistent with the type of gun that MacCallum is alleged to have used to kill her husband.
Vasquez told the court that the scoring patterns on the bullets were consistent with the firing pattern of a Springfield model 1911 pistol, a gun that MacCallum told police was in her husband's possession the night he was last seen alive.
The gun was never recovered, so Vasquez could not conclusively say that the Springfield was the weapon that fired the bullets that were recovered at the crime scene.
Siskiyou County Detective Jacques Morlet testified about interviews he had with MacCallum after she was informed that her husband was dead, saying that she was "detached," sometimes giggling and sometimes crying. He testified that MacCallum had told him she was unaware of whether her husband had a life insurance policy, and that she had described to him an altercation between her husband and her former lover.
Forensics expert Brett Liddicote, a prosecution witness, told the court he had found evidence of visits to dating sites on MacCallum's computer, but on cross examination he admitted there was no way to be sure who had accessed the sites.
Reach Siskiyou Daily News reporter David Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.