DNA, cellphone evidence, will prove Pardon’s guilt in death penalty case, prosecutor says

The death penalty trial of Anthony Pardon began Tuesday with prosecuting and defense attorneys delivering opening statements about evidence in the rape and slaying of Rachael Anderson, an intern at a local mortuary.

Cellphone and DNA evidence will prove that Anthony J. Pardon is the person who “bound and gagged, raped and hogtied and murdered” Rachael Anderson in her East Side apartment, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told jurors Tuesday as Pardon’s death penalty trial began.

“Anthony Pardon’s phone was in all the wrong places at all the wrong times,” O’Brien said in his opening statement. “And guess what? Anthony Pardon’s DNA was in all the wrong places.”

O’Brien said Pardon’s email account allowed investigators to turn his phone into “a tracking device” that placed him at Anderson’s apartment from 7:59 to 9:25 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2018 — her 24th birthday.

Investigators aren’t sure whether her attacker was waiting for her inside when she got home that evening or entered the apartment in the 3000 block of Allegheny Avenue after she arrived.

Her body was found the next day in the apartment, stuffed in a closet. She had been asphyxiated with a cord wrapped around her neck and stabbed in the back of the neck with a steak knife.

Pardon, 55, is charged with aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.

DNA recovered from Anderson’s body and some of the cords that were used to bind her matched Pardon’s DNA profile, O’Brien said.

Her body was found the next day in the apartment, stuffed in a closet. She had been asphyxiated with a cord wrapped around her neck and stabbed in the back of the neck with a steak knife.

Pardon, 55, is charged with aggravated murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery.

DNA recovered from Anderson’s body and some of the cords that were used to bind her matched Pardon’s DNA profile, O’Brien said.

Kennedy, who had known Anderson since their teen years in Warren, in northeastern Ohio, entered the apartment with the property manager. He, other friends and co-workers became concerned when she didn’t show up for her job as a mortuary intern on Jan. 29, 2018, and wasn’t answering her phone.

Kennedy cried as he described pulling on a closet door in Anderson’s second-floor bedroom and feeling as if something was pulling back. He discovered that Anderson’s body was inside, bound with cords that were tied around her neck and to the inside doorknob.

“Any direction I pulled her, it seemed like I was choking her,” he said through tears. “I completely lost my mind.”

Testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday and Thursday, with the court in recess Friday. The prosecution’s case is expected to last until early next week, after which the defense will have an opportunity to call witnesses.

Of the 90 potential jurors who were interviewed, 37 were excused due to concerns regarding their attitudes about the death penalty. The other 53 returned Monday, and the attorneys spent the day narrowing the field to 12 jurors and four alternates.

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