Benjamin Taylor was looking at pornography and listening to music on his phone around the same time he allegedly raped and injured 10-month-old Emmaleigh Elizabeth Barringer, according to testimony Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Taylor is on trial for the October 2016 sexual assault and murder of the infant girl. The victim was attacked Oct. 3 in the basement of her home at 8 Meadowlark Lane in Fairplain. She died Oct. 5 after her family took her off of life support.
The lead investigator in the case, Ross Mellinger of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, took the witness stand as the prosecution continued its case in the court of Circuit Judge Craig Tatterson.
Mellinger testified that Taylor's phone data showed he looked at legal pornography on his phone from about 2:52 a.m. to 3:17 a.m. on Oct. 3.
"In my mind, it was a prelude to the assault or simultaneous to it," Mellinger said. "That's just my theory."
Taylor also texted with his brother around the time investigators were at the apartment. His brother texted to ask him what happened, Mellinger testified.
Taylor allegedly replied, "Dumb s---. But don't worry, I'll be dead sometime."
As Prosecuting Attorney Katie Franklin continued presenting her case, Mellinger and others testified to the forensic aspect of the investigation. Deputy Lucas Casto also discussed law enforcement's initial contact with Taylor and, Amanda Adkins, the mother of the baby.
Thursday's testimony was accompanied by body camera footage recorded by police, as well as audio recordings of preliminary interviews with the suspect.
Police body camera footage showed the officers' initial interactions with Taylor. The cameras recorded Taylor just after he emerged from the basement where Adkins found Taylor with the baby.
Taylor was shirtless when Adkins found him and his pants were unbuttoned, she testified on Wednesday. The baby was naked and severely injured.
The footage shows the officers patting down Taylor, at which time he lifts up his shirt to show them dried blood on his torso. In an unsolicited gesture on the video, Taylor tries to show the officers that there is no blood on his genitals by pulling the waistband of his pants away from his body.
The prosecution also presented photos of taken of Taylor. During his testimony, Casto pointed out damp spots on the crotch of Taylor's pants, as well as the blood stains on his abdomen and chest.
Casto testified that he conducted a brief audio-recorded interview with Taylor. During the interview, Taylor said he sometimes blacks out, although he doesn't have a diagnosed medical condition.
During cross-examination of Lucas, defense attorney Tim Rosinsky pointed out that Taylor was arrested less than two hours after officers arrived at the apartment complex. Rosinsky asked the witnesses if they had canvassed the neighborhood. All of them said they had not.
Rosinsky also said Taylor was arrested before a substantive interview was conducted with Adkins, and without officers speaking to neighbors who may have seen someone else coming or going from the apartment. The police also did not speak with the medical personnel who treated Barringer, Rosinsky said during direct examination of Mellinger.
"Your bullseye was on my client and my client alone. Is that correct?" Rosinsky said.
Mellinger testified that Taylor was the prime suspect in the investigation from the beginning and there was probable cause to place him under arrest quickly.
"Without a doubt in my mind, your client raped and murdered Emmaleigh Barringer," Mellinger said.
In the moments before Taylor was handcuffed, Mellinger said, he put his hands in his pockets and began rubbing at his groin vigorously as if he was trying to wipe something off of his body.
Taylor also made the statement, "I knew I was f---ed," at the time of his arrest, Mellinger testified.
Rosinsky asked multiple witnesses about the exterior basement door and whether officers checked to see whether it was locked. Mellinger testified that he checked the door shortly after he arrived at the apartment and found it was locked, as was a nearby basement window.
Darren Francis is a forensic investigator with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and a member of their crime scene investigation unit. Mellinger said he called in the unit to process the suspected crime scene in the basement.
Francis testified that investigators logged and processed numerous pieces of laundry containing “biological” stains. There were numerous suspected blood stains on multiple surfaces, including on the laundry, on the rug underneath the laundry, and on the floor of the basement where the alleged assault occurred. Investigators also found suspected blood on a nearby utility sink and it appeared the blood there had been diluted by water.
On cross-examination, Rosinsky pointed out there would be no way to tell when the stains were left. He said laundry, by its very nature, could already contain biological stains.
Testimony was set to resume at 9 a.m. Friday.