State rests in Ketchner murder trial

Ariel Allison

Ariel Allison

KINGMAN - The state called its last witness in the Darrell Ketchner trial Thursday morning before resting its case.

Ketchner is facing the death penalty for the first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for shooting his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer Allison, and stabbing her daughter, Ariel Allison, to death in 2009.

The courtroom was silent as Mohave County Medical Examiner Dr. Rexene Worrell described the wounds she found during her examination of Ariel Allison's body.

Ariel Allison was stabbed at least 10 times: three times in the back, once on the side of her head and three times in the chest.

Worrell couldn't determine which of the wounds was made first, but said two of the chest wounds would have been fatal.

"The one in the center of her chest was very deep," Worrell said. The knife went past the center of Ariel Allison's rib cage and struck one of the four chambers of her heart.

Worrell also pointed out a bruise at the edge of the wound.

"This tells me that the knife went all the way in," she said. "A considerable amount of force was used."

She estimated the blade of the knife was around 5.5 inches.

A second chest wound, near Ariel Allison's shoulder, went through her ribs, hit the aorta, went through her lung and struck her pulmonary artery.

"It hit the two biggest vessels in the body," Worrell said.

The jury also heard testimony this week from criminologists from the Arizona Department of Public Safety's crime lab.

Roger Scurlock, who specializes in testing for drugs, alcohol and other substances in the body, testified on Tuesday that Ketchner's blood tested positive for methamphetamine at a high level.

Scurlock could not determine when Ketchner had taken the drug or how much he had originally taken, because everyone's body processes drugs differently.

The sample Scurlock tested was taken after officers found Ketchner passed out on the Cerbat Cliffs Golf Course the morning after he attacked Jennifer and Ariel Allison.

Kortney Snider, a DPS criminologist who specializes in DNA analysis, testified that Jennifer Allison's blood was found on Ketchner's clothing and around the kitchen of the home. She also found Ariel Allison's blood on the blade of a knife and a mixture of Ariel and Jennifer Allison's blood on swab from a light switch.

Judge Rick Williams also read several statements concerning evidence involving the attack on Jennifer Allison that both sides had agreed to before the trial started.

Williams stated that both sides agreed that Jennifer Allison was treated at a Las Vegas hospital on July 5, 2009 for a gunshot wound, that doctors removed a bullet from her nasal cavity and the bullet was handed over to law enforcement officers. They also agreed that a gunshot wound like the one Jennifer Allison had could cause a number of side effects, including memory loss.

Both sides also agreed that Jennifer Allison had a valid protection order against Ketchner at the time of the July 4, 2009 attack.

The defense will call its first witnesses on Wednesday. It is unknown if Ketchner will speak in his own defense. If he does, he could be questioned about two past drug convictions - one in 1992 and another in 1998.

Ketchner's attorney, John Napper, argued that the two convictions should be kept out of courtroom because they were so old and they might prejudice the jury against Ketchner.

County Attorney Megan McCoy argued that the convictions were not that old and provided important information to the jury.

Superior Court Judge Rick Williams ruled that if Ketchner testified he could be asked about the prior convictions.