Murder trial continues, cause of death can’t be determined

Suspect Jerald Howard being led into the courtroom in Moncks Corner on Wednesday. 

On Wednesday the prosecution called a number of investigators from both Spartanburg and Berkeley County to help prove the case that Jerald Howard murdered Nicole Goodlett back in 2014. Also called to the stand, the then, Berkeley County Coroner who said that the time, cause and even manner of death all remain undetermined.

Prosecutors from the 9th Circuit Solicitors Office are expected to rest their case on Thursday. Their witnesses included a hunter who first discovered Goodlett’s remains in some woods behind Cainhoy Middle School on Nov. 26, 2015. On the stand he said he was wrangling in his hunting dogs when he came across a skull. He called the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office the next day.

Investigators from the BCSO testified that they started a crime scene investigation in the area. After searching the patch of woods three separate times they discovered more skeletal remains in April of 2016. Capt. Bobby Shuler said they eventually were able to gather enough evidence to arrest Jerald Howard.

Shuler said that some of the remains found were charred. The prosecution believes Howard burned Goodlett’s body before scattering her remains in the woods. Capt. Shuler testified that he even called the State Forestry Commission to determine if there were any controlled burns or wild fires in the area during or after Goodlett is believed to have gone missing.

Later testimony revealed that, based on past fire-lines, there has not been a controlled burn in the area in six to eight years.

Court papers state that on Feb. 22, 2014, Howard made an unexpected visit from Spartanburg in a rental car to his parent’s home in Berkeley County with the twins he shared with Goodlett. Howard dropped off the children, returned later and picked up the kids, and returned to the Upstate where Howard returned the rental car. Law Enforcement said the remains found were not far from Howard’s parent’s home in Huger off of Cainhoy Road.

“As the crow flies, a mile-and-a-half or one-point-eight miles,” Capt. Shuler said on the stand when asked about the distance from Howard’s parent’s Berkeley County home to where the remains were found.

Also called to the stand was FBI Special Agent David Simmonds who conducts cellular site analysis. He said he discovered that both Goodlett’s and Howard’s phone were active. But there was a dramatic drop in outgoing calls from Goodlett’s phone beginning on February 23,2014.

Simmonds also said Howard’s phone was found to have used a cell tower in the Columbia, Lexington area as well as one near the intersection of I-26 and I-526 in Charleston. The analysis showed when the phones were being used and where but not much else.

“I can’t tell whether or not the phones were together or who made the calls,” Simmond’s said.

Retired Berkeley County coroner, Bill Salisbury also testified on Wednesday, saying he collected the remains and sent them to Richland County to be examined by an archeologist who has yet to testify in the trial.

“I relied a lot on his information,” Salisbury said.

When asked if a manner of death could be found, he answered, “Impossible.” It was the same response when it came to the cause and time of death. Salisbury said “Impossible; impossible.”