New Ferry double-murder trial underway after mistrial

New Ferry double-murder trial underway after mistrial
Brian Ferry (Source: Tucson Police Department)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Months after a Tucson judge declared a mistrial in the murder trial of Brian Ferry, a second trial has begun.

The Tucson courtroom was full on Wednesday afternoon, April 11, as opening statements were delivered in the trial of Brian Ferry, a local man who was booked into the Pima County Jail in January 2015 on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the disappearance of a Phoenix couple 16 years ago.

58-year-old Charles Russell and 42-year-old Catherine Nelson disappeared during a trip from Phoenix to Tucson to buy a motorcycle on Feb. 2, 2002. A missing persons report was filed in Phoenix after the couple did not show up for work on Feb. 6.

The next day, Tucson police located the couple's truck in a church parking lot near East 22nd Street and South Sixth Avenue. 
Detectives determined foul play was involved, but had no leads and the incident was cleared as an unsolved missing persons case for 13 years.

The second trial started Wednesday with the prosecution presenting evidence of multiple "burner phones" owned by the defendant, as well an ad placed in the paper for a motorcycle. They claim the ad was meant to lure the victims to Ferry's home where he allegedly killed the couple.

They also said the defendant's father went to a landfill to help his son dispose of items he had around the house just a few days after the couple's disappearance. The police allege they found Ferry's DNA in the couple's truck.

The defense simply countered with time, saying it's been 16 years since the disappearance of the couple. The defense contends witnesses won't have a good memory of what took place after so many years.

Since a body has yet to be found, nobody can be sure that the couple is indeed dead and as a result, the defense claims the prosecution has a severe lack of evidence. Ferry's attorney also stated that DNA is not an exact science and, "your DNA can be in a room even if you were never in it."

Judge Kenneth Lee declared the original trial in February this year a mistrial because the jury could not reach a verdict.

The second trial will continue on Thursday morning.

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