ELLSWORTH — The William Morse murder trial resumed Wednesday with prosecutors introducing testimony on the discovery and autopsy of the victim’s remains and evidence that included the murder weapon.
Testimony in the trial of Morse, 45, of Otis and Fishkill, N.Y., began April 8, two days after jury selection began. After recessing Friday, the trial was expected to resume on Monday but was postponed due to a medical issue involving the defendant.
Morse is accused of the gunshot death of 61-year-old Richard Bellittieri, whose body was found in June 2013 buried behind a duplex he was building on the Goose Cove Road in Trenton.
Morse entered the courtroom Wednesday morning in a wheelchair pushed by jail administrators. In earlier appearances he walked into the courtroom. Presiding Justice William Anderson asked the defendant if he felt well enough to proceed.
“Yes,” Morse replied, speaking for the first time during the trial.
The first to take the stand was Darryl Peary, a state police detective and member of the agency’s evidence response team. During his testimony, Peary described the events leading to the discovery of Bellittieri’s remains and the .40-caliber handgun prosecutors say was used to shoot the Trenton man four times, in the foot, the thigh and twice in the head.
Cadaver dogs were used to help find the remains. They were called in after a human bone was found on July 26, 2013. The handgun, which belonged to a Southwest Harbor woman who was dating Morse at the time, was recovered on Aug. 13.
Also testifying Wednesday morning were Dr. Marcella Sorg, a forensic anthropologist, and Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, the state’s chief medical examiner.
Sorg told the court she went to the Trenton property the day after the bone, a tibia, was found. In a swampy area that had trees, brush and marijuana growing, she noticed a familiar smell.
“There was the distinct odor of human decomposition,” she said.
She traced the odor to a spot along a tree that had been felled onto a pile of dirt. There, she and her assistant found a skull. After carefully clearing the tree, investigators painstakingly dug through the mound of potting soil underneath and found Bellittieri’s body, lying face down, his ankles bound by a rope.
The remains were taken to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta, where an autopsy was performed. The remains were identified as those of Bellittieri through dental records, Sorg said.
During the autopsy, holes in bones characteristic of gunshot wounds were identified. A .40-caliber bullet also was recovered.