Kevin Wood’s careful words held only the hint of a quaver Wednesday as he tried to explain why he had flown from Iowa to Maine to relive the shooting of his wife, Karen.
“It’s obvious I would like to see the truth come out,” Wood told a crowd of reporters who had pursued him all day. “My wife was not the least bit responsible for her death, and perhaps that is my primary motivation for being here.”
“I would also like to be able to say to my kids I’ve done all I could to clear her name,” he said.
It was nearing the end of a long day for Wood, who made his first appearance at the Penobscot County Courthouse for the manslaughter trial of Donald Rogerson, accused of killing Karen Wood while deer hunting on Nov. 15, 1988.
In the courtroom, Kevin Wood spent hours watching the process of jury selection. He followed the repetitive questioning closely, making notes on a tiny pad.
During breaks, he spent his time running the media gauntlet — first talking only to network television crews, then relenting late in the day with a session for local media.
“There’s no winners in this situation. I’m not out to get Donald Rogerson,” Wood said. “This is a process that started out a long time ago, and I want to see it through.”
Paula Baker, the victim-witness advocate for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, said that kind of reaction is common among the families of homicide victims.
“The majority of the people want to move on, but they can’t,” Baker said. “There are times that people feel an obligation to represent a family member — the victim, who can’t be there.”
Baker has spent a career counseling victims and the families of victims, especially those whose involvement in legal action reopens the original wound. She was at the courthouse Wednesday to provide support for Wood and the brother and sister of Karen Wood, who also attended the day’s proceedings.
While Karen Wood’s siblings and Baker declined to comment on the specifics of the Rogerson case, Baker said that families of homicide victims often need a trial just to find out how the victim really died.
“Frequently they don’t have all the information,” Baker said. “In order for them to have as much information as possible, they have to be there, to sit and watch the witnesses, to see for themselves what they say and what their demeanor is.”
The end of a trial — conviction or acquittal — does not close the matter for those families, however.
“It’s never over. That’s the part people don’t get,” Baker said. “These people have a hole in their photo album that will never be filled, or an empty place at the dinner table. They have someone they’re not Christmas shopping for anymore.”
Kevin Wood, who had showed no emotion throughout the day, said the same in a thickening voice.
“There are many loose ends in one’s life that are never tied up,” he said. “But this will end a phase. I will know I’ve done all I could in the system.”