A Walker County grand jury recently handed down 57 indictments from the 59 cases heard during its May session. Criminal proceedings began Monday, June 3, and Pierce’s trial is expected to begin the week of June 17. Pierce is charged with the February 1999 murder of her 70-year-old husband, Charles Earl Pierce.
Prosecutors have until 1 p.m. Wednesday to decide how to refute an expert witness called by Pierce’s attorney, Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville. Clinical psychologist Robert D. Shaffer contends the implications of a polygraph, or lie detector, test were not fully explained to Pierce before she agreed to take it. Shaffer conducted a battery of tests measuring Pierce’s cognitive ability.
Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Chris Arnt said he wants to find his own expert witness to translate the results of those test so he can properly cross-examine Shaffer.
Cook also made a motion to dismiss two state witnesses because prosecutors lost the taped interviews with those witnesses.
Retired Chattooga County Superior Court Judge Joseph Loggins did not rule on the dismissal motion, but said the court will enforce the terms of discovery.
Loggins on Friday refused to recuse himself from Pierce’s trial on the grounds that the recussal motion was not filed in a timely fashion. Arnt filed the motion after learning Cook is representing the judge in a Chattooga civil suit.
On Feb. 26, 1999, Mr. Pierce was shot at close range with a .410-gauge shotgun. His body was found at the Saul de Paul Hunting Preserve in Kensington.
Mrs. Pierce was granted a continuance during a Walker County criminal session last year.
Authorities said they suspected Mrs. Pierce’s involvement early on in their investigation, but did not have the evidence to charge her until her husband’s longtime friend, John Ross Wooten, pleaded guilty in August 2000 to involuntary manslaughter in the slaying. Superior Court Judge Ralph Hill sentenced Wooten to 10 years in a state penitentiary.
As a condition of a plea bargain, Wooten agreed to testify and help bring everyone involved in the crime to justice, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said at the time of Pierce’s arrest. Mrs. Pierce was arrested a few days later.
Wilson said he did not think the murder was a contract killing. The couple had been married 17 years.
At the time of Mrs. Pierce’s arrest, the murder weapon was not recovered. However, forensic analysis proved a garment belonging to Wooten and found in his Woodcreek Drive apartment contained Mr. Pierce’s blood