The FAQ: Answers in the Murder of Anastasia WitbolsFeugen
Did Byron Case have access to a gun?
During the trial State v. Case, Kelly Moffett testified that Byron Case told her that he had obtained his fatherís "old hunting rifle" with which to kill Anastasia.1 She also testified that she had seen a gun on the wall at Case's father's home.2 While unfamiliar with firearms, Moffett guessed under prompting by a Sheriff's Deputy that it might have been a double-barreled shotgun.3 She was certain that it was a barreled weapon, took Case's word that he had taken it from his father's home, and was certain that she had seen a long-barreled weapon at Case's father's home, though not that the two were one and the same.Top of page
Case's mother 4 and maternal aunt 5 both testified that they had never seen a rifle or shotgun at the home of Case's father, Dale Case, but neither witness was able under cross examination to categorically state that she knew that there never were guns in the house.6,7 In addition, another of Case's witnesses, Tara McDowell, admitted under cross examination that she thought that Case's father might have owned a gun, but she was not sure.8
Four witnesses testified, and whether or not Byron Case had access to a barreled weapon (shotgun or rifle) from his father's house was inconclusive, but leaning toward affirmative, pushing believability past the "reasonable doubt" threshold on that particular issue. The forensic evidence that Anastasia was shot with a long-barreled weapon (as opposed to a pistol) is not absolute, but about 80% likely to have been a rifle or shotgun and less than 10% likely to have been a small-calibre handgun.9
While Case's supporters argue that "'likelihood' is not 'certainty'", we need to remind them that IF Kelly Moffett had testified that Anastasia had been shot with a handgun -- a much more common weapon in murders done close-up -- that her testimony in contradiction to the forensic evidence would have worked heavily in Byron Case's favor, as the prosecution would have then had to establish Case's access to a high-powered handgun. Instead, her testimony was that a much less-likely weapon was used, and forensic evidence supported her statements.
In addition, evidence was also entered by the prosecution that Justin Bruton had purchased a shotgun on September 27, 1997 from a Hypermart,10 indicating no matter what story Case may have told Moffett on the day of the murder, he had access to Justin's weapon as well.