FARMINGTON — Donovan King's trial on charges that include murder opened Monday with the police officer who was first on the scene describing a bloody room and beaten man he found inside a small duplex on Apache Street a little more than two years ago.
King is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery, aggravated battery and conspiracy in the May 29, 2011, murder.
King, a 24-year-old man from Red Valley, Ariz., and Justin Mark, 25, allegedly broke into Kevin Lossiah's apartment and beat him to death with a stick and a rock wrapped in a sock, according to police.
Lossiah was 40 years old when he died.
"He was kind, gentle and humble," John Lossiah said of his brother in court. "That is how we were raised."
Farmington police Officer Mark Norwood was the first person at the home after neighbors called police to report screams and bangs coming from Lossiah's apartment. He said in court Monday that he pushed open Lossiah's back door and saw him lying on the floor.
"There was blood spatter all over the room. On the walls, on the celing and a large amount on the floor," Norwood said. "The blood on the floor was more like puddles and pools."
The jury, which is comprised of 11 women and three men, two of whom are alternates, looked at pictures and video of the crime scene and saw close-up pictures of Lossiah's injures, which included severe head wounds that exposed parts of his skull and brain, according to court documents.
Lossiah's neighbor, Wesley Gray, said during court Monday that he saw King outside the duplex shortly before he heard the attack.
Gray and King had a short conversation and King tried to sell him items so he could find a ride back to Red Valley, Gray said.
Jurors also heard Monday from the paramedic who treated Lossiah's injuries at the scene and helped transport him to the hospital where he died later that night.
Tuesday, the jury is scheduled to hear testimony from Farmington detectives who, according to court documents, found King and Mark near Lossiah's apartment complex with blood on them and in possession of Lossiah's keys, cell phone and other items.
"King and (Mark) were armed and they had a plan, and as a result of that plan, Kevin Lossiah was beaten to death," Assistant District Attorney David Cowen said during opening statements.
Cosme Ripol, King's attorney, chose to make his opening statement after the state had finished calling all of its witnesses. He spent the day portraying the events in Lossiah's apartment as a party or fight gone awry, and not the planned killing that prosecutors said it was.
Ripol asked Norwood about a metal sword that was near Lossiah when Norwood arrived but was moved so paramedics could treat him. Ripol said the original position of the sword suggests Lossiah may have used it as a weapon before he was fatally wounded.
Lossiah's "injuries were not clean and surgical. These injuries were consistent with anger," he said.
Ripol also pointed out Monday that there were many beer and vodka bottles found in Lossiah's apartment.
He prodded Gray about inconsistencies between his testimony during King's preliminary hearing two years ago and the testimony on Monday. He said Gray originally said King appeared intoxicated and had watery and bloodshot eyes and then downplayed King's state of mind during the trial Monday.
"So it's safe for the jury to conclude that either at the preliminary hearing or today you are telling some lies," Ripol said. "The fact of the matter is, Donovan King was sloppy drunk."
Ripol also said during jury selection early Monday that there would be "homosexual elements" to the case and asked John Lossiah, Kevin Lossiah's brother, about Kevin Lossiah's sexual orientation. John Lossiah said he didn't know if his brother was gay.
Mark, who was convicted of first-degree murder after a jury trial in November 2012 and is currently serving a life sentence, said at his sentencing hearing in December 2012 that he and King were in a relationship.
King was dressed in sneakers, khakis and a black and grey striped Oxford shirt on Monday. He has been incarcerated at San Juan County Adult Detention Center since his arrest the day of the incident. He took notes throughout the day and frequently had soft spoken conversations with Ripol during cross examinations.
Ryan Boetel covers crime for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rboetel on Twitter.