Opening statements begin Catherine Copley murder trial

Local News

BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The trial of an Altoona man accused of killing his wife in 2015 is underway in Blair County. 

Michael Copley, 33, appeared in Blair County Court today for the first day of his homicide trial just more than five years after the badly decomposed body of his wife Catherine Copley was found in a garage behind an abandoned house in Altoona. 

Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks told the jury during his opening statement that that along with circumstantial evidence, “We will have direct evidence” that Michael Copley killed his wife and hid her body in the garage in December 2015. 

Weeks pointed out the couple’s marriage was complicated and they fought constantly, with infidelity on each of their parts central to the tensions that ultimately escalated in December 2015.

It was then that Michael Copley suspected Catherine Copley of having an affair with her marijuana dealer, Weeks said.  

Between Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, the couple and their roommates threw a party at their home on the 300 block of Seventh Avenue. There was heavy drinking with Michael Copley making a pass at a woman after he learned Catherine Copley had engaged in a sexual act with her marijuana dealer, Weeks said.  

Weeks told the jury prosecutors will present evidence Catherine Copley disappeared after she went to her marijuana dealer’s house and Michael Copley strangled her to death before dumping her body in the abandoned garage. 

Michael Copley’s attorney Richard Corcoran asked the jury to keep an open mind in his opening statement and pointed out when Catherine Copley disappeared on Dec. 10, 2015, it was Michael who called the police and her family before joining the search. 

Corcoran also said cellphone and social media data the prosecution will present about Michael Copley’s movements lack details to make it reliable. 

Several witnesses took the stand on Monday, including a bartender at a bar the couple frequented – including the day she disappeared — that said after his wife went missing, Michael Copley didn’t seem concerned and had joked about her sleeping with her marijuana dealer for drugs. She also overheard him say it was inconvenient to meet with detectives so much after Catherine Copley vanished.  

Another friend of the Catherine Copley testified saying that she distanced herself from the couple after Michael made a pass at her and then the night of the disappearance, Michael Copley called her to ask if she had heard from his wife. 

The woman testified Michael Copley told her after Catherine Copley was missing an hour, that he thought she was dead and that he seemed calm and not disturbed at all. 

The trial of Michael Copley is expected to last through the week.  

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