Judge grants funds for expert witness in murder case

Bailey Powell

FRONT ROYAL — Circuit Judge Clifford L. Athey granted a defense motion on Tuesday for funds to hire an expert witness in the case involving a Gore teen accused of stabbing his girlfriend to death in March.

Bailey Lincoln Powell, 18, was indicted in June on a second-degree murder charge stemming from the March 25 stabbing death of 19-year-old Leah Marie Adams. At that hearing, Powell’s attorneys, David Hensley and William “Beau” Bassler, requested an independent lab analysis of Powell’s blood to test for LSD levels.

Powell’s blood samples taken at the hospital after the alleged offense were sent to NMS Labs in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. Blood samples of the victim were also sento the lab by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner prior to the defense’s request, Hensley wrote in his motion. The results of those tests show that the victim had 2.1 ng/ml of LSD in her blood and there was 2.9 ng/ml of LSD in Powell’s blood.

“…evidence clearly shows that both your Defendant and the alleged victim were taking LSD immediately prior to the alleged homicide,” Hensley wrote in the motion.

Hensley also wrote that the defense counsel is not able to interpret the results of the blood tests and “the effects those concentrations would have on one’s thought process, actions, etc.”

The defense asked for the funds to hire a forensic toxicologist, Daniel Isenschmid, in this case to interpret the results. Defense counsel asked for approximately $8,000 for the total expenses the expert would require for his services.

The defense also argues in the motion that “the defendant will be prejudiced by the lack of expert assistance” should the judge deny the motion, and that the prosecution will use testimony from several medical experts at the trial.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Layton on Tuesday took issue with why the defense counsel felt they needed the expert witness for the guilt or innocence phase of the trial, noting that the diminished mental capacity or voluntary intoxication defenses were not permissible defenses for second-degree murder.

Bassler argued that because malice is an element of second-degree murder, and the intoxication could provide reasoning for that malice. Bassler also said that there is evidence of Powell having difficulty recalling the events of that night, and the toxicologist could provide evidence on LSD’s effect on memory.

Athey granted the defense the funds requested in the motion to hire the witness to interpret the results. He also ordered the defense to notify the prosecution at least 45 days before the beginning of the trial to disclose what that witness will testify to. That information will help the court determine if the expert would be allowed during the guilt or innocence phase of the trial or only during the sentencing phase.

A hearing on evidence and testimony admissible in the jury trial is set for Feb. 7 in Warren County Circuit Court, and the five-day jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 12-16. Powell remains in custody as he awaits his next hearing.