Defense Points to Cypher in Kennedy Murder Trial

| April 14, 2019

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The defense in the Richard Kennedy murder trial made their long-awaited opening statements on Saturday morning, stating unequivocally they intend to place the burden of guilt firmly upon Amanda Cypher.

“She is the killer,” Defense Attorney Robert Kinnear stated, in reference to 34-year-old Amanda Cypher, of Franklin.

In his opening argument, Kinnear laid out a number of issues the defense intends to touch upon, including questions of evidence.

“If you don’t send it, they can’t test it,” Kinnear noted again, in reference to several items entered as evidence that were not sent to or tested by a forensic crime lab.

This issue was brought up earlier in the trial when Matt Santangelo, a Forensic Serologist with the Erie Crime Lab, was questioned about why some of the items were sent on for DNA testing and others weren’t. Specifically, reference was made to a frying pan found at 1313 New Street that prosecutors allege was used by Richard Kennedy to beat 25-year-old Tausha Baker and a rock found in the vicinity of where Baker’s body was found that police allege Kennedy used to again beat Baker.

Kinnear also brought up the lack of DNA evidence on Baker’s clothing, as well as the testimony from Dr. Vey, noting that the one major injury, the fracture to the back of Baker’s skull, could have been fatal within one to two minutes.

The defense also made it clear that they do not intend to argue Kennedy’s complete innocence and will not offer defense against charges that he helped dispose of Baker’s body. However, Kinnear reminded the jury not to “speculate” on how much Kennedy may have helped, basing their decisions firmly on what the evidence can prove.

Kinnear also stated an intention to focus on evidence that Baker was killed in the New Street residence in Franklin and was then transported to Waterworks Road, where her body was later found. He reminded the jury to keep the particular question of where Baker was killed in mind as they listen to further testimony.

Penny McCoy Testimony

The first witness the defense called was Penny McCoy, an inmate at the Venango County Jail.

Kinnear questioned McCoy about a visit Kennedy and Cypher made to her home near the time of the murder.

He questioned her about pills Cypher mentioned having in her purse, which McCoy believed Cypher may have said were “Benzos.” He also asked her to refer to a written statement she had given, stating that particular visit occurred on October 26, 2017, the day before Tausha Baker’s murder.

However, under cross-examination McCoy’s testimony came under fire.

District Attorney Shawn White questioned whether or not McCoy had seen the pills Cypher allegedly mentioned, and she admitted she had not.

White also questioned her recollection of the date, and she also admitted she was uncertain about the exact date on which the visit had occurred.

Under additional questioning by the defense, it was clarified that she made the statement during the time when police were searching her residence, where boots of Cypher’s, which later were confirmed via DNA evidence to have Baker’s blood on them, and sneakers of Kennedy’s were found.

Early Recess and Dismissal

Following McCoy’s testimony, the jury was led from the room and the spectators were also asked to clear the courtroom.

After a lunch recess in the early afternoon, the court was convened again only to be dismissed early around 2:30 p.m.

Venango County Judge Oliver Lobaugh declined to comment on the proceedings. He sent instructions to the jury to return at 1:00 p.m. on Monday for the hopeful 1:30 p.m. start.


Cellmate Says Kennedy Bragged Abou Killing Baker

Defense in Kennedy Murder Trial Tries to Establish Cypher as Unreliable Witness

Cypher Paints Picture of Kennedy Being Sole Actor in Baker Murder

Charges Held Against Two Accused in Franklin Woman’s Death

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