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Brittany Lawonn, Published November 02 2007

Ex-wife takes stand in Gibbs' murder trial

BISMARCK – Moe Gibbs’ ex-wife testified this morning in his second murder trial that she was not present when the former Barnes County jailer scratched his hands, which contradicts what he told investigators.

A Valley City, N.D., police detective testified earlier this week that Gibbs told investigators Chrissy Judd was present when he injured his hands. Gibbs said he injured his left-hand while moving boxes, and his right hand while putting Judd’s daughter into or out of a car seat, Detective Mark McDonald said.

Judd also testified for a little more than an hour about Gibbs’ behavior, a conversation with him after his arrest and her contact with him on Sept. 13, 2006, the day Mindy Morgenstern was killed in the apartment Gibbs and Judd also lived in at the time.

Judd said she did not smell Pine-Sol or see blood on Gibbs’ clothing at any time that day, and she did not recall him wearing different clothing during the separate times she saw him Sept. 13, 2006.

Her sister, Angela Curry, also testified that Gibbs showed her a cut to his left hand two days after Morgenstern’s death. Curry said Gibbs told her he scratched it “the other day” on his vehicle’s tailgate while moving boxes.

Curry described the injury as “a little hole in his hand.” Prosecutors contend Morgenstern scratched Gibbs during a struggle, catching his DNA under her left-hand fingernails.

A forensic examiner from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also testified this morning that mitochondrial DNA testing on a light-colored hair found in Morgenstern’s left-hand did not match Gibbs or Morgenstern.

The small Burleigh County courtroom was almost full this morning, with some spectators filling the empty bench where Gibbs’ supporters and family have sat throughout the trial. Today is the first day his supporters have not attended the proceedings.

An identification technician from the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation will continue testifying this afternoon about fingerprints found at the scene. Annette Anderson said she did not match any usable prints found to Morgenstern or Gibbs.

Court is scheduled to adjourn early today, around 3 p.m.

Gibbs, 35, is accused of strangling and cutting the throat of the 22-year-old Valley City State University senior in her apartment. He faces a maximum sentence of life without parole if convicted of the Class AA felony murder charge.

A jury deadlocked 6-6 in July over whether the former Barnes County jailer killed the New Salem, N.D., native.

Read more Saturday in The Forum.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541

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