Frazer woman confronted with inconsistencies during second day of murder trial
A Frazer woman accused of the 2017 homicide of her husband was confronted Tuesday by angry words from Allegheny County detectives.
The accusations and terse words were on a videotape shown on the second day of Teresa Drum’s trial on charges of murdering her husband.
Prosecutors said the tapes show interviews in the hours after Dennis Drum Sr. died from a gunshot wound to his head.
Throughout the interviews, Teresa Drum insists that she “at first didn’t believe the shooting was real,” so she used Facebook to send a photo of her husband’s body to her childhood friend. She said she wanted to ask her friend if the shooting was real.
“Didn’t know it was real?” Detective Timothy Langan asked incredulously on the tape. “You had blood and brain on your fingers,” he thundered.
On the tape, Detective Laurie McKrell asked Drum why she waited 11 minutes to summon help and, instead, took a shower after talking with her friend.
Then, she got Drum to confirm that the couple had been arguing for weeks. Just two weeks prior to Drum’s death, during another argument, Dennis Drum threw Teresa Drum a .38-caliber revolver and asked her to kill him, McKrell pointed out.
On the tape, Teresa Drum told detectives that she tossed the handgun back at Drum and it split his lip. She said she didn’t like guns and didn’t want it.
“So with that history, why did you stay?” McKrell challenged.
“You could have gotten up and left when you started to argue again,” McKrell said, raising her voice. “This was a runaway train, and there was only one person who could have stopped it and that was you!”
Earlier on the videotape, Detective Jared Kaspryszn is seen pointing out to Drum that her accounts of what happened didn’t match up to where the bullet struck the victim in the forehead and where the same bullet struck the wall above the couple’s bed.
“It would have to be a magic bullet to do what you said it did,” he said.
Assistant District Attorneys Kevin Chernoski and Bill Petulla introduced 43 pieces of evidence at trial Tuesday, including the Facebook photo and records of text and voice messages between Drum and the friend she spoke to on the night of the shooting, Christina Caudill of Lexington, Ky.
Just as she did at Drum’s preliminary hearing in 2017, Caudill testified that she, indeed, got a photo of Dennis Drum in a Facebook message from Teresa Drum.
County Forensic Pathologist Todd Luckasevic testified Drum died from a bullet that entered his face almost between his eyes. The bullet moved down and exited behind and just below his left ear.
Luckasevic testified the autopsy he conducted showed the pistol was in direct contact with Dennis Drum’s skin. Autopsy photos show black “soot inside the wound” on Drum’s face at the wound from burned gunpowder, a cherry-red coloration caused when gunshot gasses entered his face and stress tears that resulted, the doctor testified.
The doctor testified that he classified the death as homicide based on conversations with police and in part because of the presence of the pistol in the right hand of Dennis Drum when Frazer police arrived after there was no pistol visible just a short time earlier in the Facebook photo.
Defense attorney Lisa Middleman asked the doctor if it’s possible that Drum rolled onto the pistol that fell onto the floor, as Teresa Drum has insisted, or if the dead man’s arms or body could cover the pistol so it wasn’t seen in the Facebook photo sent by Teresa Drum.
“It’s possible,” Luckasevic said.
Middleman asked if it’s possible that Drum died from suicide.
Based on the autopsy Luckasevic conducted and evidence from police, he replied, “It’s more likely than not that it was a homicide.”
Throughout the day, Middleman challenged police accounts and told Allegheny County Judge Jill Rangos, who is hearing the nonjury trial, that police exaggerated or even lied to Teresa Drum to get her to talk, including telling her that her husband might have survived if a 911 call were made immediately instead of 11 minutes later.
Luckasevic testified that Dennis Drum could not have survived his wound, “not even if he (Drum) were on an operating table.”
The trial resumes Wednesday morning.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .