COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — New witnesses testified, on Wednesday, in the trial for the man accused of raping, torturing and murdering a Columbus woman who is originally from Warren.
Anthony Pardon, a registered sex offender, is accused of killing Rachael Anderson in her apartment and leaving her body in a closet.
Anderson’s remains were found in late January 2018 when coworkers said she did not show for work.
On Tuesday, one of Anderson’s friends was among the first to testify in trial.
The man, who asked not to be identified, described the moment where he opened Anderson’s closet door and discovered her bound body.
“I pulled it and there was something tied around the door handle, so I pulled it out and here came Rachel,” he said, wiping away tears. “She was tied up and in the closet.”
The first witness to testify, on Wednesday, was Anderson’s brother. He too asked that his identity be concealed.
He opened his testimony by describing his sister.
“She just liked going out and having a good time with friends,” he said. “She loved being with our family and stuff.”
During a recess, one of Pardon’s attorneys told NBC4 that his team believes Pardon is innocent.
“Our theory all along is that someone else did it,” said Larry Thomas.
Anderson’s brother testified he originally told detectives that he suspected the friend who found her body, of her murder. He said his suspicions were due to what she told him about the man’s actions while she, the man and his wife used LSD.
“That’s when the sexual vibes happened, right?” questioned defense attorney, Isabella Dixon.
“I believe,” Anderson’s brother responded.
“OK, and so much so that it caused your sister fear and discomfort?” Dixon continued.
“To an extent, yes,” he said.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said phone records and DNA evidence, presented at trial, will prove Pardon murdered Anderson.
“The defendant was in the apartment the night she was murdered,” he said. “The defendant’s DNA was in all the wrong places, and his phone was in all the wrong places.”
Also on Wednesday, Special Agent Joshua Durst, with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified about what he saw as he analyzed the crime scene.
He described several pieces of evidence, which were shown to the jury. Those items included the knife prosecutors said was used to stab Anderson, as well as the curling iron and hair drier chords that they say were used to hogtie her.
Pardon originally intended to represent himself in the trial, but Thomas and Dixon are serving as his attorneys.
In his opening argument, Thomas encouraged jurors to consider all of the evidence before reaching a conclusion on guilt or innocence.
“You can not be influenced by sympathy,” he said. “You see what happened out here and everybody knows this is a human being. You can’t base your decision on how you view the evidence because of what happened to her.”
Pardon has pleaded not guilty to charges including aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, and kidnapping. If convicted, some specifications on those charges are eligible for a death sentence.
Pardon had previously served 24 years in prison for an aggravated robbery, rape, and attempted murder conviction in 1982.
Anderson is originally from Trumbull County, graduating from Warren G. Harding and attending Youngstown State. She was living in Columbus and was nearing the end of her apprenticeship at a funeral home, where she was studying to be a funeral director.