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Murder trial: Abilene man accused of shooting woman in the head

Charles Edward Newman

The murder trial for an Abilene man accused of killing a woman inside of her apartment two years ago started on Monday.

Charles Edward Newman is accused of shooting and killing Kendra Keppler, 27, whose body was badly decomposed when authorities found her possibly days after her death.

Keppler was found shot in the head in May of 2016 at her apartment on Whittier Street off of South Leggett Drive.

According to a witness who took the stand, he said that he entered her apartment after not hearing from Keppler after a few days.

The witness told jurors that he instantly smelled a foul odor, which he would later discover was Keppler's decomposed body.

After calling a woman close to Keppler, the witness called law enforcement.

Newman was Keppler's friend who prosecutors said shot her and left her there to die.

"And for (Charles) Chuck to have the look of, he hasn't been involved with Kendra, that's throwing me off," said Amanda Martinez, Keppler's cousin.

Newman is accused of trading the very weapon that he allegedly used to shoot Keppler with for drugs, which was later recovered by detectives, which was a detail that the family was unaware about.

"The murder weapon being found, that's the biggest thing that's throwing me off. We weren't told the murder weapon was found," Martinez said.

During opening statements, prosecutors said that Newman changed his story multiple times when talking with detectives.

Detectives found Keppler’s car where Newman was living and her debit card was also found in his trash can.

Meanwhile, Newman's defense attorney said that Newman borrowed her car and when he went to return it, she did not answer her door or text messages.

The defense argued that it was getting late and Newman needed to be home at a certain time because of the ankle monitor that he was wearing from a previous conviction, so he took the car home.

On Monday, a total of four witnesses went before the jury, including the friend who made the gruesome discovery at Keppler's apartment.

Keppler's family wants one thing for Kendra.

"Justice, I want justice for Kendra regardless," Martinez said.

Testimony will resume on Tuesday morning, with the trial expected to last for the entire week and possibly into next week.

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