Two homeless parole absconders were ordered to trial on murder charges in the November slaying of an 80-year-old Royal Oak woman after their preliminary exam concluded Friday morning.
After completing DNA testimony in in Royal Oak on Friday morning, Judge Terrence Brennan said he was satisfied prosecutors established probable cause to try and in the robbery, brutal beating and killing of Nancy Dailey in her Trafford Road home.
with premeditated first-degree murder and felony murder while with felony murder, both of which carry a mandatory life imprisonment penalty. In addition, Watson and Wood are charged with larceny in a building and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device.
No trial date was set for the Oakland County Circuit Court trial.
Heather Vitta, supervisor of the biology and DNA unit for the Michigan State Police, testified regarding DNA analysis, including a testing procedure called Y-STR, which stands for a short tandem repeat of the Y-chromosome. The procedure is used to mask female DNA when a mixture of donors occurs.
Using the Y-STR test, which only looks at potential male DNA donors, Vitta testified three donors were found on the blue scarf used to bind Dailey's arms on the evening of her death. Vitta said one of the donors was Wood, and that his DNA was also found under Dailey’s fingernails.
Vitta described how she tested extracted DNA samples from the blue scarf and nail clippings from the victim’s right hand and did a comparison to Wood’s DNA taken from a swab of the inside of his cheek.
“It was a match,” Vitta said.
Wood’s attorney, Elias Escobedo, argued the prosecution provided no evidence to establish that Wood was in Dailey’s home on the day she died. “They cannot connect the dots to establish probable cause,” he said.
“What the prosecution would need this court to believe is that somehow, because two people, who are homeless, are and they appear on a video that somehow that translates into planning, or premeditation or deliberation.”
Escobedo also argued in Dailey’s death.
Watson’s attorney’s, Jack Holmes, said his client's interview with , put her in a “substantially different position” and that she “in fact, has involvement in this matter.”
In earlier testimony, Wood grabbed Dailey by the hair, threw her to the floor and tried to break her neck. She told the detective she walked away when Wood opened a 7-inch pocketknife.
Watson's interview with Edgell may only be used to implicate her. It cannot be used against Wood, because the pair are co-defendant.
Due to the severity and brutality of the multiple injuries suffered by Dailey, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Tricia Dare rejected claims that Wood did not premeditate Dailey's death.
“Clearly the defendant had time to think about what he was doing and make choices,” she said.
Timeline of events
Dare laid out a timeline of the events that she said linked Wood to the homicide. Two weeks prior to Dailey’s death Wood raked leaves at the elderly woman's home. On Nov. 19, Watson rented a room at the nearby Seville Motel, Dare said.
Dare described the Nov. 20 timeline as follows:
- 11:55 a.m.: Watson checks out of .
- 1:27 p.m.: Wood is seen on surveillance cameras at wearing a blue scarf.
- 4-4:45 p.m.: Leah Storto , Dailey's cousin, has the last known conversation with Dailey by phone call.
- 5-5:30 p.m.: Dailey’s neighbor from across the street sees Dailey sitting in her living room through a window. Around the same time the neighbor sees a man, approximately 6 feet tall, walking in front of her neighbor’s home.
- 5:50 pm.: An employee of Target Sports sees Wood and Watson in an alley headed in the direction of Dailey’s neighborhood and testifies Wood was in a dark hoodie.
- 6-8 p.m.: Storto tries to call Dailey and gets no response.
- 7:15 p.m.: Watson checks into the Seville Motel.
- 7:23 p.m.: Wood uses Dailey’s bank card at . Wood is no longer wearing a blue scarf.
- 7:55 p.m.: Watson attempts to withdraw money at the using Dailey’s bank card. Wood is seen in surveillance video, again without the blue scarf.
- 8:06 p.m. and 8:21 p.m.: Wood is seen again attempting to use Dailey’s bank card at a Mobil gas station, and again not wearing the blue scarf.
- 8:10 p.m.: Sorto and one of Dailey’s neighbors go into Dailey’s home and find her in a pool of blood. Sorto testified the phone lines were disconnected and that Dailey’s purse was missing her wallet, bank cards, phone and keys. The phone is found the next day on the roof of the Seville Motel.
Remembering Nancy Dailey
About a dozen friends, neighbors and relatives of Dailey sat in the courtroom Friday listening to testimony. Among those was Nan Drinkard, Dailey’s niece.
Drinkard remembered her aunt as meticulous gardener who enjoying walking in her Woodwardside neighborhood. Before the tragedy, Drinkard said she been looking forward to spending time with her aunt this summer, as she did last year, relaxing at her cottage near Lexington, MI.
Drinkard emphasized her aunt did not have Alzheimer's disease, as has been stated in some media reports.
“The coroner’s report said she had mild dementia,” Drinkard said. “She would be so happy to know that. She walked two miles a day and took good care of herself,” and would not want people to think any differently, she said.