Detective testifies Melissa Barnhill was having an affair

Editor's note: Trial will resume Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. will post a Wednesday update at approximately 2:30 p.m.

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - The lead detective of the Melissa Barnhill murder testified Tuesday afternoon that Melissa Barnhill was involved in an affair at the time of her murder.

"Were you aware that Melissa was involved with another man?" Defense Attorney Bill Agnew asked Det. Troy Mach.

"Yes," Mach said.

"Were you aware she had contact with him that day?" Agnew said.

"Yes," Mach said.

"Were you aware he was married?" Agnew asked.

"Yes," Mach replied.

Mach also testified that he found a copy of The Peddler in the suspect's vehicle. In it was a written down address with the name "Melissa Barnhill" next to it. Also, another address was written down and an ad for a gun for sale in The Peddler circled. That address, Mach later testified, was one belonging to Lyle Tilpon. Mach said Tilpon admitted to him on April 8 that he sold a rifle to Kyle Barnhill.

Jurors in Kyle Barnhill's murder trial spent much of Day 2 listening to police testimony about the suspect's reaction to news of his estranged wife's death and his appearance.

Day 3 of the trial will continue at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Assistant Nacogdoches Police Chief Vince Griffin said police found Kyle Barnhill with scratches on his face and arms and blood on his hands, standing inside Zest-E-Burger, on the night Melissa Barnhill was shot to death.  Griffin said Barnhill had reported that he had been robbed by two black males.  He went on to say it felt like the robbery probably didn't happen because the things Kyle Barnhill was telling officers "just didn't add up."

Griffin also testified that a truck described as the vehicle Barnhill was believed to be driving was discovered on the parking lot.  The truck's back window had been broken out.

Detective Sergeant Scott Weems, with the Nacogdoches Criminal Investigations Division, said he had been canvassing the murder scene and nearby neighborhood, and church, when he was called to the reported robbery at Zest-E-Burger.  He said Kyle Barnhill told him during questioning that he had been approached by an Hispanic male asking for a job.  Detective Weems said Barnhill told him the man pulled a long knife and that's how he got the scratches.

Detective Weems also testified that Barnhill seemed more concerned with his reported robbery than being notified of his wife's murder.

The prosecution showed the jury photos of the wounds to Barnhill's face and arms.  Detective Weems testified that the scratches to his face and arms were not consistent to a knife wound, nor did they appear to be defensive wounds.

Tammy Welch, the co-owner of Lane's Hallmark Shop, located next to Kroger grocery store on University Drive, was next to take the witness stand.  She testified that she had reported to police that there was broken glass in her parking lot when she arrived to work on March 12.  She said detectives picked it up a couple of weeks later as evidence.  Nacogdoches Police Detective Steve Gilcrease testified that on March 25, he found broken glass, while investigating the Kroger parking lot area, near where the suspect's vehicle was found.

The prosecution is expected to make clearer the link to the broken glass found in the parking lot and the broken glass discovered at the place where the suspect's vehicle was found as testimony continues.

During earlier testimony, a Nacogdoches Police officer testified he found a cloth glove in a parking lot bordering Melissa Barnhill's church.

Dan Taravella, lieutenant over special operations, said he found the glove while investigating Melissa Barnhill's death the next day.

The church property bordered Melissa Barnhill's residence.

Kyle Barnhill is on trial for the March shooting death of his estranged wife, Melissa Barnhill, while she was cooking dinner for their children. Kyle Barnhill confessed to killing his wife in a telephone interview with KTRE in April.

Also testifying before the lunch recess Tuesday was Ryan Ball, a detective with NPD.

Ball said he gathered evidence for five hours the night of Melissa Barnhill's death. He showed the jurors different instances of biological matter spread throughout the house.

"Biological matter was definitely 25 feet from the body," Ball said.

Ball said it appeared the bullet which killed Melissa Barnhill traveled through the kitchen window, her neck, an icebox and into the oven door.

Ball described the Barnhill's daughters conditions as "absolutely hysterical." He said he could talk to the then 10-year-old, but not to the then 4-year-old.

Ball spent a good part of his testimony walking the jurors through the crime scene through photos, showing the victim and the bullet's flight of trajectory.

Officer Nick Stewart described arriving on the scene of the murder.

"We started noticing people outside in their front yard," he said. "...It was yelling, just 'help over here!'... frantic yelling."

"The children were screaming, 'Help my mommy!'" Stewart said.

Stewart said he knew Melissa Barnhill was dead when he was in the home and saw paramedics backing away from her body.

"When they were getting up, I knew it was over for her," he said.

About 20 spectators were in the audience, during Tuesday morning's testimonies, many of which could be seen wiping their eyes during Stewart's testimony.

EMS worker Tony Mendez wrapped up the proceedings before the first recess, explaining that the responders immediately came to the conclusion Melissa Barnhill was dead.

"She wasn't making any effort to breathe whatsoever at all," he said. "There was no pulse."

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