Originally created 05/05/04

Witnesses testify to details of homicide



Not far from where Kathy Hutchens' head lay, detectives found Robert O. Arrington's fingerprint in her blood, witnesses testified Tuesday.

DNA analysis also proved that Ms. Hutchens' blood was on the boots Mr. Arrington wore on the day the body of the 46-year-old woman was found in her George Road home.

Mr. Arrington, 56, has pleaded innocent to charges of murder in Ms. Hutchens' death. His capital murder trial in Richmond County Superior Court began Monday. Defense attorneys William Sussman and Jeffrey Bowman are expected to begin their case this afternoon.

On April 13, 2001, Farrell McMahan returned home to find sheriff's cars and the coroner's vehicle parked in front of Ms. Hutchens' home next door, he testified Tuesday. Mr. McMahan went into his home to find Mr. Arrington, who had lived with Mr. McMahan since April 3, sitting on the couch.

"I asked him if he went over there and hurt that girl," Mr. McMahan testified. He assumed the worst because he knew that Mr. Arrington had killed his wife, Elizabeth Arrington, in 1986, and that Mr. Arrington had been convicted of beating another woman he dated in December 1998 and again in April 1999.

On April 3, 2001, Richmond County Deputy Danny Heywood was one of the officers who responded to a domestic dispute at Ms. Hutchens' home.

Because no physical violence was involved, he advised Mr. Arrington to leave and warned him he would be arrested if he tried to return, the officer testified.

Mr. Arrington replied that he wasn't scared of any woman, that he had already killed one, Deputy Heywood testified. When he said he also killed a man years ago during a pawn shop robbery attempt, the officer assumed that Mr. Arrington was lying in the alcohol-induced belief that he was impressing the officer, Deputy Heywood testified.

In March 2002, inside the Richmond County jail, James Griffin asked Mr. Arrington what happened to Ms. Hutchens, Mr. Griffin testified Tuesday.

Mr. Arrington said he killed Ms. Hutchens on April 3, 2001, when she returned from cashing a check for nearly $700, testified Mr. Griffin, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for burglary and three counts of theft. Mr. Arrington told him that the attack started in the bathroom and that he also killed her German shepherd, Mr. Griffin testified.

Investigator DeWayne Piper testified that the attack on Ms. Hutchens began in her bathroom. She suffered at least two blows before making a trail of blood drops as she weaved down the hallway to the living room, Investigator Piper testified.

The blood splatters on the walls, furniture and floor indicated that the final fatal blows were inflicted in the living room, he testified. It also revealed that Ms. Hutchens was struck in the head repeatedly as she dropped from a standing position to the floor and that she was struck several more times as she lay on her back, Investigator Piper testified.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

Prosecutors expect to complete their case against Robert O. Arrington today. Mr. Arrington faces a sentence of life in prison with or without the possibility of parole or death if convicted of murder.