Final witness speaks in murder trial

The final witness gave testimony in the quadruple murder trial of Omar Mohamed Kalmio, 28, Friday in the Ward County Courthouse in Minot. Closing arguments from the defense and prosecution will be presented and jury deliberation will begin after the weekend.

Kalmio is being tried for the Jan. 28, 2011, murders of his former girlfriend, Sabrina Zephier, 19; Sabrina’s mother, Jolene Zephier, 38; Sabrina’s brother, Dylan Zephier, 13; and Jolene’s boyfriend, Jeremy Longie, 22. Each charge is a class AA felony.

Friday was expected to be a half day. Judge Douglas Mattson on Thursday told the jury to expect the day to end at around noon, but the testimony of Minot police Detective Dave Goodman ran longer than expected and a motion to dismiss the case by defense attorney Kerry Rosenquist at the end of the session caused Mattson to enter his chambers to review the motion.

“There is ample circumstantial evidence” to support a motive for Kalmio and placing him with “ample time” to get between his place of employment and Minot, said Assistant State’s Attorney for Ward County Kelly Dillon, a prosecutor for the case, in her reply to Rosenquist’s motion.

“Frankly, in the end, I think this is a case that should be left to better minds than me,” Mattson said to deny the motion after summarizing testimonies and concluding they could be enough not to dismiss the case, despite the lack of physical and direct evidence. “This is a case for a jury.”

“Did you ask him if he knew why you were there?” Dillon asked Goodman of his initial interview with Kalmio following the murders.

“I don’t recall exactly what he said but he indicated at first that he did know why I was there,” Goodman responded. Goodman also claimed that within 15 minutes into the interview he told Kalmio why he was there and that Kalmio knew Sabrina was dead.

“He told me that he knew that she was dead and that he had received that information from his probation officer,” Goodman said.

“She was his baby’s momma and that they were currently broken up,” is how Goodman claimed Kalmio described his relationship with Sabrina and that Kalmio neither expressed nor exhibited any emotion about her death.

Goodman said that he did not tell Kalmio how the murders happened, nor did he mention that a dog was shot in the trailer home where three of the murders occurred. Several witnesses have testified that Kalmio was afraid of the “larger” dog in the home and also that Kalmio had mentioned that the dog had been shot even though that information was never released.

Much of Goodman’s testimony, both in prosecution and defense questioning, centered around cellular phone records from both the phones of Kalmio and Sabrina; distances between Williston, his oil-field work site just north of there, and Minot; video surveillance footage taken from various sites along roads between those locations; as well as Goodman’s interview with Larry Klein, a Minot truck driver who had testified Thursday.

Phone records indicate that on the night prior to the murders, Jan. 27, 2011, Kalmio had used his phone much less than he had ever used it previously in night-time hours. Sabrina had called Kalmio about 30 times that day but Kalmio had only called her once and hid his number from her phone. The call went to voice mail.

On Thursday, Klein had claimed he saw a man’s head “bobbing” behind a snow bank where he parks his semi-truck after his daily runs between Minot and Bismarck, as well as seeing the often mentioned white truck that prosecution has attempted to establish as being the work-site truck Kalmio had access to, even though he was on “stand-by” that week. Goodman was shown the same overhead-shot of the scene Klein had described Thursday and pointed to a house in the upper right corner, establishing that was Sabrina’s home where her body had been found. The house no longer exists.

In cross-examination, defense established that Goodman had only shown a picture of Kalmio’s white pickup to Klein when he had interviewed him, leaving out control images of other white pickup truck models. Klein had claimed that Kalmio’s truck “could be” the truck he saw the man running to that night.

There was about 800 hours of surveillance footage, “an exhaustive amount,” said Rosenquist, from “local convenience stores” that tracked a white truck along U.S. Highway 2, but defense has established previously that not one moment of that footage can identify Kalmio or the truck as being one for Enseco Energy Services, which is the company Kalmio was working for.

When Kalmio was taken into custody in the parking lot of the Ward County Courthouse after the murders, his infant daughter’s Social Security card was found on him. This line of questioning was quickly dismissed in cross-examination by Rosenquist who declared that it would be “prudent” of him to have such a document on him since he was at the courthouse for a child custody hearing. The Social Security number of the child has been addressed extensively throughout the trial.

The prosecution has used the fact that Jolene claimed Kalmio and Sabrina’s infant child on her tax statements in order to earn a larger return in one line of establishing motive. The tax statement was rejected, however, according to the Thursday testimony of a witness who prepared Jolene’s taxes because a “Social Security number was wrong … for one of the dependents.” Kalmio had provided them with the wrong last four digits of the number.

Another witness on Thursday had claimed that Kalmio was “fed up” that the Zephiers were “always hounding him for money.” Jolene’s money problems, including asking around for small loans from many different people at the same time, have been well established in the case.

The jury will begin deliberations following closing arguments from attorneys Monday at 9 a.m. in the Ward County Courthouse.