Testimony in the murder trial of 57-year-old Wanda Blackwelder, who stands accused of bludgeoning her elderly husband to death with a decorative peacock almost two years ago, is set to resume this afternoon at the Anderson County Courthouse.

Late Friday afternoon, 369th State District Judge Bascom W. Bentley III recessed Blackwelder's trial until 12:30 p.m. today, allowing court officials and others the opportunity to attend the funeral of local businessman and longtime community leader David Foster, the father of 349th State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher.

A seven-woman, five-man jury was seated in the case Wednesday morning.

The state, which is being represented by Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe and assistant district attorney Allyson Mitchell, will likely not rest its case until mid-week.

Blackwelder, 57, had been married to 83-year-old Fred Hayes for approximately eight months when local law enforcement authorities were summoned by the woman to the couple's Frankston residence shortly before 5 a.m. on May 18, 2004.

Authorities arrived to discover Hayes' unclothed body in a restroom, with his legs partially in a bathtub. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dr. Lynn Salzberger, pathologist at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science in Dallas, testified last week that Hayes received a total of 58 blows to his face and head.

Hayes also had a broken nose and rib, according to Salzberger's testimony.

Local attorney Mark Calhoon, who is representing Blackwelder, has maintained throughout the trial that his client acted in self-defense after Hayes initiated the confrontation by grabbing her and kicking her in the chest.

Calhoon is being assisted by local attorney Dan Scarbrough.

If convicted of murder, Blackwelder will face a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum of five years probation.

During opening arguments, Calhoon, however, asked the jury to ultimately consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.


Paul Stone may be contacted via e-mail at pstone@palestineherald.com

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