Trial underway for man accused of killing his fiancée

Credit: Paul Boehlke/KTVB

Trial underway for man accused of killing his fiancée




Posted on February 15, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 16 at 11:15 AM

BOISE -- Opening arguments began Wednesday in Ada County in the case of a Montana man charged with killing his former fiancée in Boise last March.

Prosecutors say 32-year-old Lloyd Hardin McNeil murdered Natalie Davis by suffocating her and then setting fire to her home near Boise State University before leaving town.
Police arrested him in Seattle several days later.

Jury selection took most of the morning, but opening arguments took less than 15 minutes for both sides to layout their case.

McNeil faces charges of second-degree murder, arson and grand theft.

Prosecuting attorney Whitney Faulkner addressed the jury first.  She went over the rocky past of McNeil and Davis, who spent years in an on-again, off-again relationship.

Davis was found dead on March 5, 2011.  At that time a restraining order prohibited McNeil from having contact with Davis. That stemmed from a confrontation in Montana in 2010.  For some reason the two met up again in Boise.

Faulkner says Davis' brother Matthew Hess last saw his sister sleeping next to McNeil on the futon in their house.  Hours later firefighters say they found her body between a smoldering mattress and a box spring.  Investigators say the mattress was soaked in vegetable oil.

"It led them to the conclusion that this fire was incendiary, that it was intentionally set," said Faulkner.  "This fire was no mistake, it was no accident, and it was no coincidence. This fire was set by the defendant. This fire was set in order to cover up the fact that he had murdered Natalie Davis."

Defense attorney Danica Comstock said this case is about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She says firefighters and investigators jumped to conclusions not supported by evidence.

"So what really happened on or about March 5, 2011?  You know, I'm not sure we're ever going to really know. It's almost a year after Natalie Davis passed away, and we still don't have a cause of death," said Comstock.

The Ada County coroner examined Davis' body and said that there is no clear indication of how she died other than she stopped breathing, and that it happened before the fire.

McNeil is also accused of stealing Davis' car, two dogs and an engagement ring.  The defense said Wednesday that McNeil did have possession of those items, but they will challenge why he had them.
The trial will continue Thursday morning when the prosecution calls its first witness.