ELLSWORTH, Maine — Testimony resumed Wednesday morning in the murder trial of William Morse after an issue with his diabetes resulted in the trial being delayed for two days.
Officials with the Maine State Police and the state medical examiner’s office testified Wednesday about collecting evidence in the case, in which Morse is accused of shooting and killing Richard Bellittieri and then stealing the dead man’s identity.
Police became concerned about Bellittieri after Morse was arrested July 9, 2013, in Bar Harbor on a charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants. Morse told the arresting officers his name was Bill Tool, but when they searched him and the vehicle he had been driving, they found identification and documents that belonged to Bellittieri.
Jurors on Wednesday also heard an audio recording of an interview Maine State Police detectives had with Morse in late July 2013 in Dedham, after they had found a human bone on Bellittieri’s Goose Cove Road property in Trenton.
At first, the detectives did not tell Morse during the recorded interview that they had found a bone. When they asked Morse if he knew where Bellittieri was, he again said he most recently had seen Bellittieri in May or June, which is what he had told police a few days before during an interview in Trenton.
But then they confronted him about Bellittieri being dead.
“You know exactly where he is,” Detective Tom Pickering can be heard telling Morse on the recording. “We found a bone.”
Morse did not immediately respond, and the detectives then pressed him about explaining how he may have caused Bellittieri’s death.
“I never caused no one to die,” Morse replied on the recording. “You’re way out of line.”
Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, chief medical examiner for the state, testified Wednesday morning about the autopsy he performed a few days after Bellittieri’s body was found in late July 2013 under a pile of potting soil and felled trees the Goose Cove Road property. A large bullet fragment was found in Bellittieri’s remains during the autopsy, he said.
Flomenbaum said Bellittieri was shot once in the leg — with the bullet entering the bottom of the foot, exiting the top and then shattering his thigh — but he did not explain how this may have happened. He said the cause of Bellittieri’s death was two gunshot wounds to the head.
“Either of those bullets would have been fatal,” Flomenbaum said of the head wounds.
Police have said they believe Morse shot Bellittieri in July 2012, took over his identity and then spent $180,000 of Bellittieri’s money over the following year. Flomenbaum said he believes Bellittieri had been dead for at least two months and possibly for as long as two years when he conducted the autopsy.
Kimberly James, who works for the Maine State Police Crime Lab in Augusta, testified Wednesday that she tested the bullet fragment and determined that it had been fired by a .40-caliber Springfield Armory handgun that belonged to Southwest Harbor resident Nancy Elliott, one of Morse’s former girlfriends.
Elliott, who dated Morse between July 2012 and the spring of 2013, testified Wednesday that she thought Morse’s name was “Bill Tool.” She said he spent “a lot of money” when they went out to restaurants or bars and that he learned where she kept her handgun in the camper where she was living in July 2012.
“He knew where I kept it,” she said.
Elliott added she never knew that the firearm had been removed from her camper until after Morse was arrested and state police detectives showed up at her house to inquire about it.
Prosecutors are expected to call more witnesses when testimony continues Thursday morning. The trial, which began April 8, could wrap up as early as Friday, according to Justice William Anderson, who is presiding over the proceeding.