CLEARFIELD – When court resumes at the Clearfield County Courthouse Thursday morning for the case of a man accused in a 1997 murder, jurors will hear closing arguments.
Andrew Callahan, 25, is on trial for the Nov. 5, 1997, death of 15-year-old Micah Pollock. Callahan was once convicted of first-degree murder in the death, but the state Superior Court overturned that verdict last year, saying that the jury was given incorrect instructions.
It is alleged that a 16-year-old Callahan pointed a .12-gauge shotgun at Pollock’s back after the two had been grouse hunting. Callahan held the gun, and Pollock was to flush the birds out for him. Pollock is alleged to have criticized Callahan for his poor shooting ability, saying he “couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.”
As the boys were walking back to their vehicle to leave, Callahan said he held the gun and pointed it at Pollock’s back “as a joke.” He pulled the trigger, reportedly anticipating a “clicking” sound and for Pollock to turn around and be surprised.
Pollock’s body was found on Nov. 11, 1997, in a Beccaria Township beaver pond. He had been shot in the back once with a shotgun.
Callahan told several people after the incident that he dropped Pollock off at his home after the hunting trip.
At the time of the shooting, Callahan claimed he had been on the illegal drug mescaline, a hallucinogen.
The defense rested at 3:55 p.m. Thursday without calling Callahan to the stand to testify in his own defense.
Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman asked several questions of Callahan outside of the jury’s presence to be sure that he understood his rights.
Callahan affirmed for the judge that he understood his rights and that he could change his mind before the defense rested its case.
Callahan did testify in his own defense in the first trial.
Ammerman noted that the jury would be instructed as to Callahan’s right not to testify.
“The jury is absolutely not permitted to draw any inference that might be negative,” he said.
Witnesses who were called to the stand included 25-year-old Jessica Harpster of Glasgow who said she was dating Callahan at the same time as Kaylee (Peacock) McClellan. McClellan testified in the case on Monday.
McClellan’s testimony included statements that Callahan was a jealous boyfriend.
Harpster disputed this, saying she started a sexual relationship with Callahan about six weeks prior to the Callahan/(Peacock) McClellan break-up on Oct. 24, 1997.
“It was not purely physical,” she told the jury on several occasions. However, she admitted that she was never Callahan’s “official” girlfriend.
Harpster made several statements that McClellan knew of Callahan’s relationship with her and that she telephoned the Harpster home to advise that the relationship be stopped.
Another defense witness, Margo Bolton of Coalport, was called to the stand to dispute testimony from another witness for the prosecution, Stephanie Miller.
Bolton knew Miller at the time of the shooting, saying the two were friends.
“She was not truthful and not trustworthy.”
Upon questioning from Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., Bolton admitted that she had been contacted by a private investigator on Tuesday and was subpoenaed to testify.
Bolton further stated that she did not know whether Miller has the same reputation now.
The final defense witness Thursday brought the case dangerously close to being declared a mistrial.
Dr. Harry Kamerow of Boalsburg, a pathologist, testified about whether Callahan could have formed the specific intent to kill that is needed for a first-degree murder conviction.
“Within a reasonable degree of medical certainty … Mr. (Andrew) Joseph Callahan was unable to form the specific intent to kill due to illicit drug use,” Kamerow said.
Kamerow told the jurors that because of the hallucinations, illusions and delusions caused by the drug, Callahan could not have been thinking properly.
Shaw said Kamerow based his medical opinion solely on the fact that Callahan told him he had taken mescaline. Other people claimed Callahan had smoked marijuana on that day, but no one verified that Callahan snorted five crushed up pills of mescaline.
The case resumes Thursday when both sides will offer their closing arguments. The jury will then begin deliberations.
The case was scheduled to last through Friday, but it appears as though it could end as early as Thursday afternoon.