Good, 28, 389 Blue Ridge Road, is charged with murder in the death of 31-year-old Maria Fernandez who disappeared Sept. 3, 2008, after finishing her shift at Ellen Sagar Nursing Home. Fernandez’s skeletal remains were found Jan. 7 by a utility worker beneath some power lines off Highpoint Road in the Carlisle area.
At the time of Fernandez’s disappearance, she and Good were the parents of a 5-year-old son. The child, now 6, took the stand Tuesday afternoon and told the court about the last day of his mother’s life. Accordig to reports he said they’d played together and then he’d went to his room and his parents to theirs. There was what he said was a camera flash that left his father smiling and his mother dead. He said his father buried his mother in their backyard.
The child was the latest in a series of witnesses called by the state over the past two days to testify against Good. As in the case of the other witnesses, Good’s son was cross-examined by defense attorney Doug Brannon who asked him how he could have seen the flash if he’d been in his room and his parents in theirs. The child said he’d heard the sound of the flash going off.
Few questions were asked of the child by either the state or the defense but that was not the case with other witnesses called Tuesday.
Among those testifying was Union Count Coroner William Holcombe who described how he was given custody of Fernandez’s remains before sending them to the pathologist for examination in Newberry. The pathologist was unable to determine the cause of Fernandez’s death and, under cross-exmination by Brannon, Holcombe admitted the cause of her death is still unknown.
Brannon’s questioning of Holcombe was an island of calm in midst of the often stormy exchanges he had with two of the state’s other witnesses — Dennis Bruce Talley Jr. and Exzain Dornell Fernandez. When questioned by deputy solicitor John Anthony, Talley said on the night of Fernandez’s disappearance Good had picked him up at his home to go up to Spartanburg to do some work on Dornell Fernandez’s house. He said they stopped by Good’s home then proceeded on up to Jonesville.
It was the stop at Good’s home that helped start up the day’s fireworks as Talley testified he saw no one there. Brannon, however, pointed out that in his original statement to the sheriff’s office, he’d seen Maria Fernandez on the porch then changed his story to that it was someone who looked like her and now was saying he’d seen no one. Talley said he’d originally told Maria’s brother, Dornell, and her cousins he’d seen her on the porch at the request of Good and Good’s mother. He insisted, however, that everything else he’d testified to had been accurate.
Another issue Brannon confronted Talley over was the time that Good came and got him. Brannon said while Talley had testified it was a little after 10 p.m. his statement to deputies had been that Good had come to get him earlier that evening between 8-8:30 p.m. Also, Brannon pointed out Talley said Good had called him shortly before 11:30 p.m. He asked why Good would have called him at that time if they’d been together.
Tally appeared to become flustered at several points during Brannon’s cross-examination and admitted he didn’t know the exact times involved.
Another issue was Talley’s testimony about Good’s purchase of some rubbing alcohol, his cleaning his car and his disposal of a floor mat from the vehicle. The defense contends the cleaning and the disposal of mat was because white paint Good and Talley had used at Darnell Fernandez’s house had spilled in the car. Under questioning from Brannon, Talley admitted that some paint had spilled out of a spray gun they’d used onto the mat in question.
Talley has also testified he heard Good destroying Fernandez’s cellphone. He said Tuesday that Good had got out of the car in Jonesville, got something out of the trunk and started slamming it into the pavement. When Good got back in the car, Talley said he had pieces of a broken cellphone he put into a door panel. He said he did not know what Good did with the pieces.
Later, when visited by Fernandez’s brother and cousins, Talley told them where Good had destroyed the phone. They went there and found what remained of it and notified the sheriff’s office.
Brannon, however, contends this evidence amounts to just six pieces of broken plastic.
The fireworks continued when Brannon cross-examined Dornell Fernandez who described Good’s behavior the day of his sister’s disappearance. Fernandez said while normally he had to call Good to come and work on his house, the day of his sister’s disappearance he said Good called him repeatedly wanting to know when he would be at home and that he would be there. When Good arrived, Fernandez said he behaved strangely, saying little and constantly looking at him as he changed into his work clothes in the driveway. He said Good was at his home around midnight with Talley.
In the aftermath of his sister’s disappearance, Fernandez said he began searching for her and it was during this time he learned of the destruction of her cellphone from Talley. He said after finding the pieces of his sister’s cellphone he spoke with Good who told him Maria still had it. Knowing that wasn’t true, Fernandez said he called Good an “(expletive deleted) liar.”
Brannon confronted Fernandez about his mother’s claim she hadn’t heard from Maria following her disappearance. He produced a phone log that he said showed Maria’s phone had received a call from her mother later that evening. Fernandez, however, said just because the phone received a call didn’t mean his sister had answered it.
Brannon then pointed to a line on the log that said “duration” with the number 13 beside it. Fernandez repeated his statement that his mother did not speak to his sister following her disappearance. He also said his mother wouldn’t have lied about speaking to his sister or the 13 minutes in question.
When allowed to again question Fernandez, Anthony pointed out that while the log gave 13 for the duration it does not state whether it was 13 minutes or 13 seconds.