Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

Jury in Eckard case sees recording of police interrogation

BROOKSVILLE — Four hours into his interview with Stanley Eckard, Detective Randy Williamson looked out of patience.

It was June 21, 2010, the day the body of Eckard's 19-year-old brother, Sean, was found in a shallow grave in the yard of the Spring Hill home they shared with their parents. On Thursday, the fourth day of Stanley's first-degree murder trial, a jury watched two hours of excerpts from the interview.

Sobbing throughout, Stanley, now 24, at first said he didn't know anything, then changed his story several times. Finally, he stuck with one story: They struggled in Sean's room early June 19, and Sean's body went limp as they fell to the floor. He said he buried him with plans to tell his father, Samuel Eckard, after Donna Eckard, their mother, left for a trip.

But Stanley was evasive about what sparked the argument. In one version, he said he went into Sean's room and found him holding a bag of Stanley's belongings. But he had also acknowledged there was tension between them because Sean was dating a woman Stanley liked.

Finally, an apparently exasperated Williamson asked: "Was it over your stuff or was it over the girl? What came between you and your brother? Where's the root of the anger?"

"The girl," Eckard replied.

That exchange is a crucial part of the evidence Assistant State Attorney Pete Magrino hopes will convince jurors that Stanley went into Sean's room planning to kill him. But Stanley has not wavered from what he told Williamson: "I had no intentions of killing him."

He claims he hid Sean's death because he wanted to protect his mother and her weak heart.

A medical examiner testified earlier this week that Sean Eckard died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck. On Thursday, a forensic pathologist testified that a blow to the head combined with other factors — Sean's high blood alcohol content and possible lingering brain swelling from encephalitis — likely resulted in his death. The pathologist testified that hitting his head on a nightstand as the two men fell could have been enough to kill Sean.

Donna Eckard testified Thursday that Sean was the more aggressive of the sons and experienced dramatic mood swings after the encephalitis. Donna and Samuel Eckard have said they believe Stanley's account.

He decided Thursday not to testify in his own defense. The case is expected to go to the jury after closing arguments today.

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