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Jury in Wilton murder case views bloody evidence from fatal stabbing

Union Leader Correspondent

January 24. 2013 4:51PM

Benjamin Duling, 40, of Wilton appears in Hillsborough County Superior Court on Thursday where he is on trial for second-degree murder. (COURTESY)

NASHUA – Lawyers in the second-degree murder trial of Benjamin Duling continued to spar Thursday over whether he intentionally killed his common-law wife, Shelly McGrade, or acted in self-defense during a knife fight.

Duling, 40, is on trial this week in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua on two alternate counts of second-degree murder. He faces up to life in prison if he is convicted.

Jurors spent the morning watching video footage of a bloody, cluttered kitchen where McGrade was found stabbed to death in her Wilton home on April 18, 2008.

On the morning after the murder, state police searched the home, where prosecutors say Duling killed his 35-year-old wife after the two argued about him taking a trip to London with a male friend.

State police testified that they found spots of blood sprinkled throughout the kitchen floor and a nearby telephone while searching the home and collecting evidence the day after the murder.

"It's evident to me that someone at least pushed the nine and the one because the nine and the one are red," State Police Sgt. Scott Gilbert testified.

Testimony by investigators focused on the position of McGrade's body and the blood that ran throughout the kitchen.

The video showed pools of blood surrounded McGrade's body. Both legs were at a 45-degree angle, her head face down on the floor.

"It seems she was standing in blood and collapsed," Gilbert testified.

Investigators believed McGrade suffered a fatal stab wound to her lower back on her left side.

Kim Rumrill, a state forensic expert, testified about her analysis of the blood at the crime scene found around McGrade's body.

"At some point, when she was along that counter area, the knife would have to have been removed for the blood to exit in such tremendous quantities," Rumrill testified.

Defense lawyer Mike Hulser has been suggesting to jurors this week that Duling acted in self-defense. McGrade's body was found with a knife in her hand.

Challenging the defense's theory, Assistant Attorney General Michael Lewis quizzed Gilbert about the position the knife was found in McGrade's hand.

"I described it in my overview as blade (facing) toward her as opposed to away from her," Gilbert said. "She is holding it backwards."

Jurors were also shown a photograph of Duling's right hand, which sustained cuts during the alleged confrontation with his wife.

Retired state police Sgt. Steven Rowland testified that after photographing Duling's entire body searching for other wounds, it was the only one he found.

"I did not notice any other apparent injuries other than what was bandaged," Rowland testified.

Testimony is expected to resume Friday morning. The jury could begin deliberating by early next week.

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