Prosecutor: Turbulent relationship preceded murder
By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY – Prosecutors will begin showing evidence Wednesday in the first-degree murder trial of Larry Wayne Call.
Jury selection concluded Tuesday afternoon after two days of questioning. Eight men and four women will decide the guilt of 45-year-old Call, formerly of Miller Street in Faith.
Call is accused of stabbing to death 52-year-old Kevin Michael Rufty during the summer of 2010.
In an opening statement Tuesday, Rowan County Assistant District Attorney Tim Gould depicted the murder as the result of a complex failed relationship that quickly turned violent.
Gould told the jury Tamara Propst, Call’s former girlfriend, was in the process of leaving him at the time and Call also lost his job shortly before the murder. Prosecutors said Propst was also a prostitute.
“You’ll hear in the days leading up to Kevin’s death on Sunday, June 27, 2010, the defendant’s life had taken a downward turn,” Gould said. “.. That things were spiraling out of control.”
Rufty was found dead in his white Buick LeSabre on Grubb Ferry Road. He was still wearing his seatbelt and had multiple stab wounds to his chest, arms and neck, prosecutors said.
At least one of the fatal blows penetrated Rufty’s seatbelt.
Authorities said Rufty drove a short distance after the assault before succumbing to his injuries. His car was found crashed into a tree along the roadside.
Gould delivered the opening statement shortly after the jury was sworn in. He was accompanied by District Attorney Brandy Cook.
Call’s attorney, Darrin Jordan, of Whitley and Jordan, P.A., in Salisbury, did not give an opening statement Tuesday.
Judge W. David Lee, of Union County, is presiding over the trial, which is expected to last throughout the week. It is not a death penalty case.
More than a dozen friends and relatives of Rufty, including his parents, were in court Tuesday. A family member declined to comment.
In 2010, Rufty’s mother, Betty Gillespie, told the Post her son called shortly before his death to say he would be home for Sunday supper.
It was one of the last calls he made. Prosecutors said the last one was to Larry Call’s cell phone.
Former girlfriend Tamara Propst is expected to testify for the state.
After the murder, Propst told authorities she was in a sexual relationship with Rufty and had been with him the night before he was killed, Gould said.
But Propst and Rufty had a heated argument when the sexual encounter went awry, Gould said, and Propst left angry.
The following day, she told two friends, and later had a heated argument with Call, who had been growing more and more frustrated with his former girlfriend’s unexplained disappearances, Gould said.
Call then learned of Rufty’s relationship with Propst, Gould said, and got the 52-year-old’s phone number.
Prosecutors said Propst and Rufty were drug users and used drugs together.
Call phoned Rufty and told him he wanted to buy drugs, Gould said. Rufty picked Call up at the Miller Street home and they left.
A witness told officers she saw Call get into Rufty’s white LeSabre.
Along with a large knife Call was carrying in a sheath on his side, prosecutors said Call brought beer with him into the LeSabre. A Busch beer can was found underneath Rufty, according to a search warrant obtained by the Post.
Gould said a second beer can was found in the woods near the crime scene and a third beer can was taken into evidence from Call’s home.
Prosecutors said a beer distributor will testify that all three cans were part of the same distribution batch.
Several Rowan detectives, EMS and fire crew members, a state medical examiner, a passerby who found Rufty’s body and a neighbor are among those expected to testify in the trial.
A potentially key part of the trial is a pair of white shoes, which were taken into evidence.
Prosecutors said Tuesday one of the shoes was found to have a blood splatter on it. A DNA test confirmed the blood was Rufty’s, Gould said.
Propst told authorities Call was wearing the shoes when he left with Rufty the day of his murder.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.
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