Family, friends of couple take stand in murder trial

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Several friends and family to Jason and Kerrilee D’Avolio took the stand this morning in Jason’s murder trial to testify about what the couple was like in person — as well as Jason’s relationship to firearms.

Some of the testimony given by the friends and family conflicted with the information that D’Avolio told investigators during his two recorded interviews, which were played at trial last week.

D’Avolio, 48, of Rome, is accused of shooting his estranged wife, Kerrilee, on the night of July 28, 2019 and throwing her body in a dumpster. He is charged with one count each of second-degree murder and concealment of a human corpse. Authorities have said that Kerrilee was seeking a divorce. The couple have three children together.

Michelle D’Avolio was the first witness this morning, the widow of Jason D’Avolio’s brother, Christian, who passed away in June of this year. Michelle told the jury that Jason would telephone his brother nearly every day in the spring of 2019, and sometimes those calls were put on speaker phone so that she could be part of the conversation.

During one of those telephone calls, Michelle told the jury that Jason asked Christian “about different types of weapons, about guns” and mentioned his “devastation” at the idea that Kerrilee might have invited someone else into their home.

“He believed that somebody was in his house that was not supposed to be there,” Michelle D’Avolio told the jury about Jason.

She said Jason eventually told them he bought a gun for “home protection,” and that “he said that he finally got to take the gun out and it had a little bit of a kick to it.”

Michelle told the jury that this was unusual because, “In all the time that I knew Jason, I never knew him to have a weapon or have a gun.”

Michelle testified that her husband, Christian, was an avid hunter and that Jason asked Christian to take him target shooting.

“My husband was a little up and down about it,” Michelle told the jury.

When Jason D’Avolio was taken into custody by law enforcement after Kerrilee was shot, he gave two recorded interviews to investigators, which were played for the jury during the trial last week. In one of the recorded interviews, D’Avolio told investigators that he purchased the rifle as a surprise for his brother, and he said Christian had been asking Jason for years to go target shooting.

Jason also told investigators that Kerrilee discovered the rifle about a week after it was purchased and she argued with him about having a gun in the house. Jason told investigators that he gave the gun to Kerrilee to dispose of and he did not know what became of it after that.

Two of Jason D’Avolio’s friends took the stand this morning and both testified that Jason called them frequently in the spring of 2019 complaining about his marriage falling apart. Both old friends testified that the calls were so frequent that they became annoying. Both friends also testified that there was never any indication of domestic violence between Jason and Kerrilee, nor was there any discussion about any weapons or firearms. They both testified that it was usually Jason’s responsibility to take care of the couple’s three children, and that he could be obsessed with cleaning.

Both friends also testified that Kerrilee showed no signs of depression.

One friend, David Blum, testified about a specific telephone call on April 5, 2019, where Jason was worried that Kerrilee would take their children away from him.

“He was kind of worried that he would go to work and come home one day and she would be missing with the kids,” Blum told the jury.

On April 4, 2019, Rome Police Sgt. Brian Stevens testified that a man later identified as Jason D’Avolio called the main desk of the Rome Police Station asking about whether spouses could remove children from a home. The brief telephone call was played for the jury.

On the call, D’Avolio told Stevens he was “wondering if she has the ability to remove them from this home.” Stevens advised D’Avolio to contact Family Court about family and custodial matters.

This final witness this morning was a manager at the Walmart in Rome, who confirmed for the jury that D’Avolio filled out the paperwork to buy the rifle on April 3, 2019 and then he completed the purchase and picked up the weapon on April 5.

Testimony is scheduled to continue this morning and through the week.

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