RIPLEY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — The Benjamin Taylor trial continued Thursday with hours of testimony from officers who were first on the scene and who led the investigation.
Taylor is accused of raping and murdering 10-month-old baby Emmaleigh Barringer, the daughter of his girlfriend at the time.
Jurors heard emotional testimony from Emmaleigh’s mother Amanda Adkins on the first day of the trial, and switching gears on Thursday, they heard from the several deputies and crime scene investigators who spent the entire day at the home collecting evidence, but the longest testimony came from Jackson County Chief Deputy Ross Mellinger who headed the investigation.
Mellinger remembers the call that woke him up just after 5 a.m. Oct. 3, 2016.
"It was certainly alarming, not every day you get a phone call and are awakened by someone claiming there's a dead baby to investigate,” Mellinger said.
Although Emmaleigh did not die until two days later, she was described by law enforcement as appearing lifeless.
Answering defense attorney Tim Rosinsky's questions on Thursday, Mellinger said he remembers searching the home and ruling out the possibility that someone other than Taylor had been in the basement with Emmaleigh.
"Based a lot on what your client said, this particular crime scene didn't involve what you called the neighborhood, matter of fact it was even more restrictive than the residence itself, it was more restrictive than just one level of the residence it was restricted to one room of the residence and particularly one area of that one room,” Mellinger said.
Body camera footage was played for jurors showing Taylor inside the apartment lifting up his shirt to show deputies his stomach and you can hear him say that he must have gotten blood on his torso when he picked up Emmaleigh. Search warrants were issued later that day were for the home, the clothes Taylor was wearing, and for Taylor's body. During the search of his body, Mellinger said, he repeated a statement he had already made.
Rosinsky asked Mellinger if doctors could confirm who sexually assaulted Emmaleigh. To that, he said no but in further questioning Mellinger said he believes he knows the answer.
"You are logically, securely, at least in your mind, that my client acted alone, inflicted these injuries alone, and caused this child's death alone?" Rosinsky said.
Mellinger said he has no doubt who was responsible.
"Without any doubt in my mind, your client raped and murdered Emmaleigh Barrigner,” Mellinger said.
As testimony continues, more information on the DNA found is expected.
If convicted of first-degree rape and murder, Taylor faces life in prison.