A crumbling marriage. Debts. Child support payments. Two pregnant girlfriends. Bobby L. Cutts Jr. was a man under pressure, Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett said. And on an early morning in June, that pressure choked Jessie M. Davis to death.

A crumbling marriage. Debts. Child support payments. Two pregnant girlfriends.

Bobby L. Cutts Jr. was a man under pressure, Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Chryssa Hartnett said. And on an early morning in June, that pressure choked Jessie M. Davis to death.

“We are here because of physical pressure,” Hartnett told a Stark County jury as Cutts’ trial began Monday in Common Pleas Court. “The physical pressure he exerted around the neck of Jessie Davis for the several minutes that it took for him to snuff the life from her and her unborn child.”

Then Cutts dumped her body in Hampton Hills Metro Park in Summit County and tried to lie his way out of trouble before directing investigators to her rotting body after a nine-day search, Hartnett said.

The defense says there’s no proof Cutts committed crimes that could result in a death sentence. Defense attorney Fernando Mack warned the jury not to lose its way.

Prosecutors want to talk about Cutts the womanizer. The liar. The cheater. They want to show the pictures of Davis’ decomposed body. They want to talk about how Cutts knew where her body was and how Blake, the young son of Cutts and Davis, was left home alone for a day and a half.

Prosecutors want the jury to be shocked and outraged, but they can’t even say how Davis died, Mack said. The Summit County Medical Examiner listed the cause of death as “unspecified homicidal violence.”

“If he has to take responsibility as it relates to the abuse of a corpse and child endangering, which you will hear much of, then so be it,” Mack told the jury. “They will not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of aggravated murder.”

Testimony starts

Five witnesses took the stand Monday. The testimony centered on June 15, the day Davis’ mother, Patty Porter, reported her missing.

Porter, her daughter Audrey Davis, Jessie’s neighbor and two sheriff’s deputies recounted the condition of Jessie’s duplex at 8686 Essex Ave. NW in Lake Township.

The unlocked back door. Jessie’s 2-year-old son left alone, his diaper reeking. Her purse dumped on the floor. The comforter missing from her bed. The toppled stand and lamp. The open bottle of bleach and stained carpet.

When Stark County Sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Weisburn arrived at the home, Cutts was already there. Audrey had called him. He was still dressed in his Canton police uniform and had helped another deputy search the trunk of Jessie’s car.

Weisburn taped two interviews with Cutts that day. The investigator also talked to Blake.

As Weisburn and the 2-year-old colored with crayons, Blake repeated three phrases: “Mommy’s crying. Mommy’s in the rug. Mommy broke the table,” Weisburn recalled.

Later, Blake looked out the window, and saw his father.

“Daddy’s mad,” Blake said.

Weisburn asked why. The boy didn’t give a reason. He went back to coloring. Speaking to Cutts, Weisburn asked for a timeline of the last few days. When had he last talked to Jessie?

Cutts said they spoke on the phone on the evening of June 13, after he played a softball game, according to a tape of the interview. She was supposed to bring Blake by his house the next morning.

After the softball game, Cutts said he went to a bar, then home. The next morning he picked up Ferrell, who was going to baby-sit Blake, and took her to his house. Jessie never came by.

When he called her at 7:11 a.m. on June 14, the cell phone went straight to voice mail. He left a message asking why she hadn’t told him she wouldn’t be dropping Blake off, he told Weisburn, according to the tape.

Later that morning, Cutts went to GlenOak High School, where he helped coach football. He went to the bank regarding a loan. He picked up his daughter, went to Wal-Mart and did some mulching. That evening he coached a summer league basketball game. Then he took a nap and worked the night shift.

The relationship

What was his relationship with Jessie Davis? Weisburn asked.

Their relationship went back about four years. They had a son together. Cutts said he wasn’t sure if the child Davis was carrying was his. She had been involved with two other guys, he told Weisburn on the tape.

As for his marriage, he and Kelly were separated. Their relationship went off and on. They argued about money and the amount of time he spent working.

Kelly had talked about getting a dissolution.

“Things don’t always work out,” Cutts said.

How did his wife feel about Blake? Weisburn asked. She treated him like part of the family, Cutts said.

What was the future for him and Jessie?

“As long as we’re both parents to Blake, that’s the most important thing,” Cutts replied on the tape.

After the second interview, Weisburn went to Cutts’ Plain Township house to have a look around.

Other witnesses, including Ferrell, corroborated Cutts’ timeline. Meanwhile, tips piled up with the sheriff’s office. People called about finding cell phones, diapers, comforters, unusual smells in vacant homes. Deputies dug up at least two dogs putrefying in shallow graves.

But as investigators started collecting phone records for Cutts, Davis and Ferrell, Weisburn said he started seeing discrepancies in Cutts’ story.

The trial was to continue this morning with testimony about those phone records, and Myisha L. Ferrell, who prosecutors say witnessed Cutts dump Davis’ body, will take the stand.

Reach Repository writer Shane Hoover at (330) 580-8338 or e-mail shane.hoover@cantonrep.com