Testimony underway in second-degree murder trial of Zachary Benc - FOX29 Lake Charles

Testimony underway in second-degree murder trial of Zachary Bench

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Zachary Bench (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office) Zachary Bench (Source: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office)
SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) -

Day 2 of Testimony:  Slowly, but surely prosecutors are revealing the bits of evidence they expect to tell the story of how one man was murdered by another in the Starks area.

As a second day of testimony neared its end jurors were seeing bits of surveillance video from various locations in the Starks area..  Screen shots showed Jody Barlow and  Zachary Bench at various locations around Starks...on August 25th, 2015.  The last day Barlow was seen alive.

There are also surveillance pictures of Bench's girlfriend, Elizabeth Demarest purchasing first aid supplies at the Dollar General on August 26th.

Barlow's truck, trailer and side by side were eventually discovered in a wooded area but were completely burned.

Jurors have also seen crime scene photos including gruesome ones of Barlow's body.  He had been shot to death in the back of the neck and six times in the face, according to opening statements.

There were also photos of the vehicles, so badly burned they were but a shell.  And there were photos of items such as a cigarette butt said to have Bench's DNA on it.

Bench is accused of second degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice.

Many of the witnesses have been on the stand for a short amount of time as each provides a piece of the picture that the state is putting together about what happened to Barlow. The trial resumes Thursday morning.

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt is covering the trial in the courtroom. Mobile users, click HERE to follow her coverage.

For more about the homicide and arrests, click HERE and HERE.

Monday:  Opening statements and Day 1 of testimony

Jurors are hearing two quite different stories as the trial of Zachary Bench gets underway in State District Court.

Bench is charged with second-degree murder, armed robbery and obstruction of justice in connection with the shooting death of 33-year-old Jody Barlow of Starks.

Barlow died of multiple gunshot wounds and during the investigation, deputies determined his truck, utility vehicle and trailer were missing, along with a large sum of cash.

In opening statements, prosecutor Ross Murray described how those vehicles were later found burned. He told jurors the evidence will show that Bench was there in the woods when it happened - evidence including a cigarette butt with Bench's DNA found near Barlow's body.

 However, the defense apparently will try to suggest that the shooting was self-defense or a justifiable homicide.

Defense attorney Natasha George called Bench a liar and poor decision maker, but told jurors he is not a murderer. She says the evidence is circumstantial and does not definitely prove Bench murdered Barlow.

She also described Barlow as a special-forces veteran, who had been deployed to Iraq and who was a highly trained killer. George told jurors Barlow had so many drugs in his system it's amazing he didn't overdose.

The state's first witness was Barlow's wife, Julia, who testified about not being able to reach her husband and filing a missing person's report with the sheriff's department.

She learned Aug. 27 that a body found in the woods in the Starks area was that of her husband, whom she described as a warm, loving person. 

The state will continue putting on witnesses on Wednesday morning.

Barlow, who was working construction in the Starks area, was reported missing along with his truck, Polaris side-by-side, trailer, and other personal items. He was later found shot multiple times. His truck and side-by-side were found completely burned about 10 miles from Starks. 

Barlow and Bench had met not long before Barlow's murder, and were last seen together in convenience store surveillance footage, Sheriff Tony Mancuso said at the time. Bench was also seen driving Barlow's stolen Polaris side-by-side. 

KPLC's Theresa Schmidt is covering the trial in the courtroom. Mobile users, click HERE to follow her coverage.

For more about the homicide and arrests, click HERE and HERE.

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