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Defense rests, closing arguments and deliberation to begin Wednesday

Mar. 12—Closing arguments and jury deliberation are set to begin Wednesday morning in the trial against a McAlester man accused of killing Holly Cantrell in 2017.

Cody Ketchum, 37, was indicted by a multi-county grand jury in October 2022 on a first-degree murder charge and a misdemeanor charge of destroying evidence in the death of Cantrell — the McAlester woman who disappeared in January 2017 before her skeletal remains were discovered in 2018 and later identified in 2020.

Jurors heard testimony Tuesday from the ex-wife of Tommy Cantrell, the husband of Holly Cantrell. The woman was used as an impeachment witness against Tommy Cantrell and his statements to the jury that he has never been on the road that leads out to the area where his wife's remains were found near the Cardinal Point Recreation Area south of Crowder.

The woman told jurors that she and Tommy Cantrell crossed that road together several times when they were together during day trips to the area.

Jurors also heard from a private investigator hired by the defense to investigate the case.

Joshua Kline, a Tulsa-based PI, testified to viewing security footage provided by law enforcement from businesses along U.S. Highway 69 near the Braum's restaurant taken from Jan. 20, 2017, the day Holly Cantrell went missing.

Ketchum told investigators he dropped Holly Cantrell off at the restaurant that day so she could have lunch with friends and did not return to pick her up due to him being ill.

Text messages shown during the trial show Holly Cantrell texted Ketchum it was OK and that she would go back to McAlester Regional Health Center where she worked to finish her shift. Holly Cantrell did not return to work and was reported missing later that day by her husband.

Video from the Braum's restaurant was not kept as part of the investigation due to technical issues at the restaurant, but was viewed by an investigator and was written into a report.

Kline said 27 minutes of footage was taken from the nearby KFC restaurant and 17 minutes of the footage was missing.

The investigator said footage taken from Moonshiners, another business along the highway, had the timestamp cropped out and that the video quality was not clear enough to view vehicles traveling on the highway.

Out of both videos reviewed, Kline said he could not see a truck that matched the one Ketchum owned.

Kline told jurors he spoke with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about lake levels on the day Holly Cantrell went missing. He testified that despite the Corps having the lake level, they would not be able to tell him if the road to the peninsula was covered by water or not.

Jurors were also shown a video from when the road was above the water line to see the condition of the road.

A motion made by the defense to take the jury to see the Cardinal Point Recreation Area in person was denied by Associate District Judge Tim Mills.

Ketchum invoked his right to not testify in the trial and the defense rested their case Tuesday around noon.

Jurors were sent home for the day with instructions to be ready to hear closing arguments and begin deliberating Wednesday morning.