Guilt is not the full question as Montgomery County murder suspect faces trial

Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:18 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - James Stallard is accused of the 2022 killing of Crystal Hannah. Trial for the charge of first degree murder began Aug. 16.

The defense opened the case by saying the facts are pretty straightforward. The defense attorney told the jury during opening statements that the jury will find Stallard guilty of something, but the degree of the charge is what’s up for debate.

Wednesday, the commonwealth called seven witnesses, including Hannah’s daughter Chelsea Hannah. She testified she had heard Stallard threaten to kill her mom multiple times.

The prosecution also called former Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Kuzma to the stand. He told the jury Stallard admitted to him that he killed Hannah and hid the body.

Wednesday’s testimonies ended with Dr. Amy Tharp. She performed the autopsy on Hannah’s body and said the prominent cause of death was strangulation.

The prosecution will resume its side of the case Thursday morning with more witnesses.