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5/26/2014 6:00:00 AM
Murder defendant's sister gives contradictory testimony
Trial to resume Wednesday
Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Joyce Loader was deep in a drug-induced sleep the night her younger brother came into her bedroom to deliver startling news.

George Allen Loader, 37, told his sister that he and Heather Duval, his girlfriend and the mother of his child, had just killed a man.

"I don't know if he said they killed him or just chopped him up," she said.

Loader stands accused in the shotgun slaying and dismemberment of John Oppenheim on Nov. 21, 2011. His defense attorney told jurors that Oppenheim's death was accidental, and that Loader decapitated the man and severed his limbs before setting them on fire in the desert because he has a mental illness and he was worried police would not believe him.

On Thursday, prosecutor Greg McPhillips was able to impeach Joyce Loader's testimony by playing back portions of interviews the woman gave to detectives with the Mohave County Sheriff's Office shortly after the incident.

Joyce Loader said George Loader told her his daughter was "freaking out" when Duval tried to change her diaper and that she was "all red" in the area of her genitalia. The girl, 3, allegedly pointed at Oppenheim, whom was in the home, and said he had molested her.

Joyce Loader couldn't recall with any clarity the interviews she gave two and a half years ago and her testimony Thursday was inconsistent with what she said to detectives at the time.

Joyce Loader said it wasn't unusual for the girl to resist: "She didn't like to be changed."

Earlier on Thursday, a nurse who examined the girl said there was no evidence of molestation, but nobody can rule out whether or not she was abused, according to both attorneys.

Loader, she said, told her he "snapped."

"He said he shot him and hacked him up and dumped the body by some bike jumps," said Joyce Loader.

And while Joyce Loader might have changed her story at times during her testimony, her brother might not have ever been caught had she not been the one to call law enforcement.

She said she met the victim once: "He was just released from jail and was trying to get his people to come get him," she said. "He said his family wanted nothing to do with him."

Joyce Loader at the time of her brother's confession took the powerful sleep aid Ambien, which she said has caused her to sleepwalk, suffer hallucinations and other side effects.

She said she was uncertain whether she and George Loader actually had the conversation the night before and so she drove to where Loader said the body was located.

She said she remains were there.

"And what did you do then?" said McPhillips.

"I took my family to safety and called the police," she said.

Oppenheim's remains were charred beyond recognition. Joyce Loader identified Oppenheim as the person Loader mentioned in his confession from a photograph detectives showed her.

Joyce Loader cried at the memory and she said she loves her brother. She denied her brother asked her to recant her statement to police, but again, taped phone conversations between the two George Loader's arrest might have cast doubt on her credibility for jurors.

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