Protective order for shooting victim never served

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Authorities issued a domestic violence protective order against Billy Tommy Elmore on Sept. 16, 2009, a court clerk testified on Tuesday.
But the order, requested by Elmore’s estranged wife Patty Kesler Earnhardt Elmore, was returned, unserved, a week later. Billy Elmore was shot and killed Sept. 17, 2009, in front of the eastern Rowan County home the couple had shared.
Robert Douglas Earnhardt, Patty Elmore’s son, is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting. He is on trial in Rowan County Superior Court. His attorney, Jay White, said he intends to prove the shooting was self-defense.
Court clerk Tracy Baker testified Tuesday morning that Patty Kesler had applied for the protective order — commonly called a 50B order after the N.C. General Statute it falls under — in the civil division of the Rowan County Clerk’s Office.
She took the order out about a week after Billy Elmore moved out, and a day before authorities say he returned to the Leisure Lane home. He came to feed his dog. Instead, a fight ensued and he was shot in the head.
Tiffany Barbee, who drove Billy Elmore to the home, was also shot during the altercation and struck with a chainsaw chain, authorities said. She drove to nearby Tamarac Marina, where an employee called for help.
Earnhardt is also charged with assaulting Tiffany Barbee, and testimony about her recollections of that day took up a good deal of Monday’s court proceedings.
Much of Tuesday, however, focused on a video made a couple of hours after the shooting in which Robert Earnhardt helped investigators re-enact the events that led to the shooting.
With the video projected onto a screen visible only to jurors, the judge and attorneys, Rowan County Sheriff’s Lt. Chad Moose testified that Earnhardt performed the re-enactment while Sheriff’s Detective David Earnhardt recorded him on video.
Before beginning, though, Robert Earnhardt asked that Elmore’s body be covered “so he wouldn’t have to see it,” Moose testified.
Moose said Billy Elmore was facing the house when he was shot. His injuries indicated he was shot from behind, near the back of the head and close to his right ear. An exit wound was in the front, left part of Elmore’s head.
At times, the audio on the recording was difficult to hear — other noises including a barking dog could be heard — and that factored into a two-hour discussion about the video that delayed jurors’ returning to the courtroom after lunch.
White, the defense attorney, told the court the re-enactment video at times was unintelligible. Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges agreed, saying the video was mostly impossible to understand.
Prosecutors noted that Moose made handwritten notes at the crime scene as well as supplemental notes and a statement that could help to explain the video. White argued against using those notes, saying they and the video provided three versions of what went on that night.
The judge ruled that Moose’s notes could not be used, nor could he narrate the video in the presence of jurors.
When jurors returned to the courtroom, around 4 p.m., there was no further mention of the video or any supplemental notes.
Instead, Assistant District Attorney Barrett Poppler began discussing photos Moose had taken on Sept. 19, 2009, when he returned to the crime scene at Leisure Lane.
The trial resumes today at 9:30 a.m.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.