Witnesses in Reynolds murder
After Nathan Gaudet finished cutting 16-year-old Adrianne Reynolds' body into pieces with a handsaw, he wanted to get some lunch, the Moline teen testified Tuesday.
Mr. Gaudet, 16, said he agreed on Jan. 22 to help his friends Sarah Kolb, 17, of Milan, and Cory Gregory, 17, of Moline, dismember Ms. Reynolds' body after the pair told him they had killed Ms. Reynolds on Jan. 21.
Mr. Gaudet calmly described how he severed Ms. Reynolds' head, arms, legs and torso on Jan. 23 at a farm in rural Millersburg in Mercer County.
Ms. Kolb and Mr. Gregory told him that Ms. Kolb choked Ms. Reynolds while Mr. Gregory held the victim's arms in Ms. Kolb's Geo Prism outside a Moline Taco Bell, Mr. Gaudet testified.
Ms. Kolb is on trial for two counts of murder and one count of concealing a homicide in Rock Island County Circuit Court. Mr. Gregory will be tried on the same charges in February.
Mr. Gaudet was Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez's 34th witness in Ms. Kolb's trial, which goes into its eighth day today.
Also testifying Monday were Ms. Kolb's sister, Elizabeth Jones, who said she tried to cover up her sister's alleged involvement in the homicide, and Pat Corbin, Mr. Gaudet's grandmother, who said she found the handsaw.
Mr. Gaudet, thin-framed and short-haired, spent more than three hours Tuesday detailing his part in the crime in short, monotone answers. He pleaded guilty to concealment of a homicidal death in a plea agreement for his testimony against Ms. Kolb.
He said he's up for parole in February, but, "I'll probably be denied a couple times."
Mr. Gaudet said Ms. Kolb and Mr. Gregory picked him up at his grandmother's house on Jan. 22 and told him they had killed Ms. Reynolds the previous day. The pair said they drove her body to Big Island, where Mr. Gregory loaded it into the trunk, Mr. Gaudet testified. They then took the body to Ms. Kolb's grandfather's farm, where they tried to burn it for six hours, he said.
While in the car Jan. 22, Mr. Gaudet, Ms. Kolb and Mr. Gregory decided to "cut her up and spread her in different places," Mr. Gaudet testified. That night, Ms. Kolb went to work at Showcase Cinemas 53 in Davenport, and Mr. Gaudet spent time in a hot tub with his girlfriend, he said.
The next morning, Mr. Gregory and Ms. Kolb -- who Mr. Gaudet described as "in control" in their relationship -- picked up Mr. Gaudet, who brought a mitre handsaw in his trench coat pocket, he testified.
The three went to the farm, where Ms. Reynolds' charred remains were covered in sticks, Mr. Gaudet said. It was Ms. Kolb's idea to cut up the body, he said. Mr. Gaudet kneeled to start sawing off the victim's head. Afterwards, Ms. Kolb put a beaded necklace from the corpse in her trunk, he testified.
He said he then cut off the body's limbs and severed the torso in two, just below the ribcage. Mr. Gaudet was the only one of the three to cut up the body, he said.
Mr. Gaudet said he and Mr. Gregory then pushed the torso pieces and legs into a creek on the farm using a three-pronged gardening tool, and Mr. Gregory loaded the arms and head into a black plastic bag.
"We wanted to take them and put them in another place so it would be harder to find," Mr. Gaudet said. "Dental records would make it easier to identify the body."
He said he wiped blood off the saw with snow before loading it, the gardening tool and the plastic bag into the trunk of Ms. Kolb's car. The three then drove to McDonald's in Aledo because Mr. Gaudet had leftover money on a gift card, Mr. Gaudet said.
"You just got done cutting Adrianne ... into pieces, and you wanted to get something to eat?" Mr. Terronez asked Mr. Gaudet.
"Yes," Mr. Gaudet responded.
After buying food, they went to Big Island, where Ms. Kolb suggested they dump the remaining body parts, Mr. Gaudet said. But too many people were around, so Ms. Kolb drove them to Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, he testified.
Mr. Gaudet said he and Mr. Gregory dug in the ground until they hit a manhole cover. They lifted the lid, and "Corey dropped the head and arms down the well," Mr. Gaudet said.
The three then stopped at Mr. Gregory's grandmother's house in Moline, where he was staying after he was evicted from a house on 11th Street in Rock Island. Mr. Gaudet said he grabbed a friend's clothes and a book bag at the Moline house.
After returning to his home with the saw in the book bag, he returned the tool to the furnace room, Mr. Gaudet testified.
Later Tuesday, Mrs. Corbin, Mr. Gaudet's grandmother, testified that after Ms. Kolb and Mr. Gregory were arrested, she searched her basement after watching her grandson leave and return from there on Jan. 23. On Jan. 26, she looked in her basement three times before finding the saw, she said.
"I had a gut feeling I should go down there and look for something," Mrs. Corbin said, then paused, in tears. "That's when I saw the saw."
While she didn't notice anything on the saw, she, her husband and their daughter thought they should call the police. "We felt it might be connected somehow to the missing girl," she said.
Mr. Gaudet was arrested that day.
On cross examination, Dave Hoffman, the assistant Rock Island County public defender representing Ms. Kolb, tried to create doubt in jurors' minds about Mr. Gaudet's testimony. He challenged the teen's statements by comparing them to ones Mr. Gaudet made previously, including to a grand jury in March.
Mr. Hoffman pointed out that, in an earlier statement, Mr. Gaudet said Mr. Gregory suggested what to do with the body. However, on the stand Tuesday, Mr. Gaudet said it was Ms. Kolb's idea.
Mr. Hoffman also accused Mr. Gaudet of saying whatever he needed to get a deal with prosecutors, which Mr. Terronez later rebutted. The state's attorney said Mr. Gaudet shared key facts of the case before a plea agreement was offered.
Mr. Hoffman also brought up Mr. Gaudet's drug use. The witness admitted buying cocaine about the time of the murder and was "coming off ecstasy" when he was cutting up Ms. Reynolds' body.
"Why do you remember things today, Mr. Gaudet?" Mr. Hoffman asked.
"Because my mind is clearing up now," he said. "I'm off drugs."
Outside jurors' presence, Mr. Hoffman challenged the stability of Mr. Gaudet's mental status. Mr. Gaudet, who said he was bipolar and "previously" was schizophrenic, wasn't taking Prozac for anger and anxiety during the dismemberment. Judge James Teros ruled that information had nothing to do with Mr. Gaudet's memory of the events, and he didn't allow jurors to hear it.
Ms. Jones, Ms. Kolb's sister, asserted her 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination when asked about her role in hiding facts of her sister's involvement in the case. Mr. Terronez granted her immunity.
Ms. Jones said on Jan. 25, she hid the shovel used to unearth the manhole cover. Police later found the shovel at her apartment complex in Milan. At that time, she also threw away the garden tool and Ms. Reynolds' necklace, which Ms. Kolb didn't want her to have.
"She looked shocked and disgusted that I had it (the necklace). She said Nate (Gaudet) wanted a souvenir ... from Adrianne," said Ms. Jones, who is five years older than Ms. Kolb. "I didn't want anything to do with it or have it with my sister."
Ms. Jones also confirmed sexual overtones in Ms. Kolb's and Ms. Reynolds' relationship before the murder. She said Ms. Kolb was bisexual and asked her advice on dating Ms. Reynolds. Ms. Jones said she advised against it because Ms. Reynolds was "promiscuous."
"She just said she (Adrianne) was a very good-looking girl, and she liked her and Adrianne liked her. They had talked about dating," Ms. Jones said. "I just told her I didn't think she was a good person to hang around."
Ms. Kolb, Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Gregory were students at the Black Hawk Outreach Center in East Moline. Ms. Reynolds was reported missing Jan. 21, and portions of her body were found Jan. 25 in Black Hawk State Historic Site.
Witnesses testified last week that Ms. Kolb threatened to kill Ms. Reynolds several times on Jan. 21. They said Ms. Kolb called Ms. Reynolds a "slut" and a "whore" because of affairs she allegedly had with several mutual friends.
Ms. Kolb was arrested and charged Jan. 26. Mr. Gregory was arrested and charged Jan. 27.
Mr. Terronez said he plans to call four more witnesses, whom he declined to name, before resting his case today. The trial resumes at 9 a.m.
Staff writer Brian Krans can be reached at (309) 786-6441, Ext. 271.
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