Detective, friends of victim testify in Irby murder trial

·2 min read

Jun. 10—MOUNT VERNON — A Skagit County Sheriff's Office detective detailed in court Wednesday the early stages of the investigation into the 2005 killing of James Rock, and how Terrance Jon Irby became a suspect.

Irby is on trial in Skagit County Superior Court for first-degree murder and first-degree burglary.

The 62-year-old has been convicted in three previous trials, but each of those convictions was overturned by the state Court of Appeals.

Detective Sergeant Jennifer Sheahan-Lee said that on March 12, 2005, the morning after Rock's body was found in his Hamilton home, she and her colleagues conducted a search of the property.

During the search, she said she found ammunition and accessories for a number of guns, but no guns. The door to Rock's bedroom, where shotgun shells were found, was damaged and missing its handle.

Irby was arrested in Marysville several days earlier, on the day law enforcement believe Rock died. Sheahan-Lee said she was aware of this arrest, and made a connection between the guns missing from Rock's home and those found in Irby's truck.

Also found in the truck were work boots that fit Irby, and were splattered with blood that DNA testing confirmed belonged to Rock, she said.

Irby was also found with a pendant, which a later witness confirmed Wednesday belonged to Rock.

Rebecca Jones, a close friend of Rock's, said he would buy things such as jewelry, old Bibles and survival equipment on eBay to either give them as gifts or to resell.

Rock showed Jones the pendant that was found with Irby, and said he wanted to give it to his granddaughter, Jones said in testimony.

She said he also showed her a rifle that matched the description of a gun found with Irby.

Lorna Hoyle, an acquaintance of both Rock and Irby, said Irby drove to her home on March 8, the day law enforcement believes Rock was killed.

Hoyle said he was acting unusual. He was muttering, seemed agitated and was difficult to understand.

"He just wasn't even close to right," she said.

As he has in the past, Irby has chosen not to present a defense at trial, meaning the jury will hear only from the prosecution.

Lawyers for the prosecution said they hope to finish witness testimony by Friday, and would be ready for closing arguments that afternoon.

— Reporter Brandon Stone: bstone@skagitpublishing.com, 360-416-2112, Twitter: @Brandon_SVH

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