Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trial Focuses on Husband's Actions after Wife Fell from Moving Truck

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Trial Focuses on Husband's Actions after Wife Fell from Moving Truck

Article excerpt

As the trial for a man accused of killing his wife got under way this week, opposing attorneys painted contrasting pictures of how James Gerding acted in the minutes after his wife tumbled from their moving pickup and before a passer-by stopped to help, finding her dead.

Gerding, now 47, is being tried in St. Charles County Circuit Court on charges of second-degree murder, armed criminal action and driving while intoxicated in connection with the incidents leading to his wife's death early on Nov. 20, 1995, or late the night before.

Gerding had 0.17 blood-alcohol content. Missouri law considers a driver with a blood-alcohol content of 0.10 to be legally drunk. The two had been to several bars before going to a casino. They were quarreling about which family members would be invited to celebrate the holidays, according to police accounts. The charges were filed after an autopsy revealed that his wife, Evelyn Gerding, 44, died of head wounds caused by a blunt instrument. Assistant County Prosecutor Rebecca Shaffar said Monday in opening statements that the injuries could not have resulted from a fall from the vehicle. Defense attorney David Dalton Sr. said he would present evidence to show otherwise. "He may not have intended to kill her, but he certainly intended to hurt her," Shaffar told the jury, claiming that Gerding had made statements to sheriff's deputies about striking his wife with an object. According to police accounts, the couple was leaving Casino St. Charles the night of Nov. 19 when a busload of casino employees pulled up behind them at a stoplight. Orville Anderson, the driver of the shuttle bus, testified that Evelyn Gerding had gotten out of the pickup and appeared to be quarreling with her husband. She eventually got back into the vehicle and the two drove off. Gerding drove to South River Road as he and his wife continued to quarrel, authorities say. At some point, Evelyn Gerding struck her husband and he hit her across the face several times, both attorneys stated. …

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