STARKVILLE — Thursday testimony suggests a former Mississippi State University student on trial for capital murder might not have been totally truthful last year in statements to authorities regarding the death of his housemate at 21 Apartments.
In a videotaped statement shown Thursday to jurors in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, 29-year-old Bobby Batiste admitted to Oktibbeha County Sheriff”s Department deputies that he killed Andreas Galanis, who was 28, in March 2008 during a fight over missing money, but said he only struck Galanis “three or four” times during the altercation.
Autopsy photos and testimony Thursday by forensic pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne, however, showed an estimated 36 injuries to Galanis”s body, a majority of which were blunt-force trauma to Galanis” face and head. Galanis also had defensive wounds on his hands and wrists.
Batiste”s account of the fight, during which he told deputies Galanis “jabbed” at him with a sword to initiate the incident, also was contradicted by DNA analyst Kathryn Moyse.
Moyse, who served as a DNA expert in the case, swabbed the sword for skin cells and other particles during the murder investigation to establish genetic profiles for previous handlers. Analysts can use skin cells, blood splatter and other body fluids to establish a person”s DNA profile.
But the sword handle contained a female”s DNA profile, and not those of Galanis or Batiste, Moyse said.
“So whoever it was that gripped that sword handle, it wasn”t Andreas Galanis?” District Attorney Forrest Allgood asked Moyse. “Is that correct?”
“That”s correct,” Moyse said.
Defense attorney Jim Lappan pressed Moyse on her techniques during cross-examination and made the woman exhibit how she obtained the DNA profile from the sword”s handle, making sure she didn”t miss a spot.
Moyse explained how she used one or two wet swabs to gather skin cells and particles from the every inch of the handle and was confident the profile didn”t match Galanis”.
“The DNA profile, regardless of whether it came from skin or somewhere else, did not match Andreas Galanis,” Moyse said.
Lappan, during opening statements earlier this week, didn”t deny Batiste killed Galanis. His argument is that the incident didn”t happen in the commission of a robbery and doesn”t warrant a capital murder charge, which makes Batiste eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
“The evidence will prove that on March 7, 2008, in his apartment, Bobby Batiste killed his roommate, Andreas Galanis,” Lappan said. “The evidence in this case will disprove that Bobby robbed Andreas Galanis. The evidence will disprove capital murder because Bobby Batiste didn”t rob anybody.”
Batiste claimed in police statements he used Galanis” debit card regularly and that Galanis knew about the frequent transactions. Testimony this week by tellers at M&F Bank, located at the corner of Highway 12 and South Montgomery Street, said Galanis told a different story when he came into the bank the afternoon before his murder and realized $4,507 was missing from his checking account.
Galanis told at least two M&F Bank employees that he never even activated his debit card. The card and his pin number were still sitting in a box in Galanis”s bedroom, he told the bank employees.
But Galanis”s M&F Bank statements show the card was activated at the branch ATM on Dec. 25, 2007. Galanis was in Biloxi visiting his family on Dec. 25, 2007.
In the few months after Christmas 2007, someone spent more than $4,500 while using Galanis” debit card without his knowledge. Galanis told at least one teller at M&F Bank he suspected Batiste had used the debit card without his permission.
What happened the morning of March 7, 2008, is still unclear. Batiste said Galanis threatened to shoot him over the missing money, then jabbed at him with a sword. A fight then ensued, during which, Batiste said in his statement, he put a rim adjuster in his bookbag and used it to strike Galanis three or four times in the head.
Photos of the crime scene shown Thursday in court gave jurors an idea of the violence which had taken place. Blood stains were found all over the carpet in at least three rooms in the apartment, and blood was spattered on walls and ceilings. Galanis”s head and face were covered with abrasions and contusions.
Batiste tried to clean up the crime scene before sheriff”s department deputies arrived. Galanis”s mother became worried when her son didn”t show up in Biloxi for a flight to Florida and asked the sheriff”s department to check on him.
Batiste had put a sheet on the floor in the back of his Ford Explorer and admitted in his videotaped statement he was about to put Galanis in the vehicle and leave the scene when the first deputy arrived. Batiste has been in custody since he was arrested during the evening hours of March 7, 2008.
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