Mark Penley of Peru, left, stands with his attorney, Maurice Porter, Wednesday as jurors enter Oxford County Superior Court in Paris on the first day of Penley’s murder trial. He is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend, Heather Bickford, and Dana Hill on Jan. 1, 2019, in Paris. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

SOUTH PARIS — A jury of eight women and seven men watched video footage Wednesday of a deceased man and woman lying face down on the floor of a bedroom in a pool of blood, the woman’s arm and leg draped over the man’s motionless body.

Under the woman’s right hand was a gun.

It was the first day of the trial of Mark Penley, 51, of Peru, who is charged with the murders of Heather Bickford, 31, of Canton and Dana Hill, 31, of Paris in whose apartment the bodies were found.

Former Norway police officer Daniel Brown testified Wednesday in Oxford County Superior Court, describing the images captured by the body camera he wore on the night of Jan. 1, 2019, when he entered Hill’s apartment at 24 Market Square in response to a 911 call.

The call had been placed by Penley, who was seen in the video standing in the living room when Brown arrived at the scene. In Penley’s hand was a baby carrier with a crying 3-month-old girl in it.

The girl’s 8-year-old sister could be seen sitting on a couch.


The video footage went black when Brown picked up the 8-year-old girl and carried her outside to a car. He asked her her name and what had happened in the apartment. She didn’t answer either question.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea walked the jury through a narrative of the state’s theory of what happened that night, referring often to evidence prosecutors plan to present during the trial.

She said Penley told police he had arrived at the apartment to find the two dead bodies.

“Dana had been shot through the head,” Zainea said. “The right shoulder and his left hand.” A bullet from his head and fragments from another bullet still lodged in his hand were recovered and sent to the crime lab for examination, she said.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Hill had died instantly when he was shot in the head, Zainea said.

Bickford had been shot five times, Zainea said, including once to the left side of her cheek that shattered a tooth. Dental fragments had been found in her stomach contents, Zainea said. Another bullet grazed her right shoulder. And she had been shot in her right cheek. She also had been shot in the back of her neck at close or near contact, Zainea said.


A fifth bullet pierced the right side of Bickford’s head, the state prosecutor said.

“That injury instantly, instantly interrupted her breathing and cardiac function,” Zainea said.

Investigators found a blood trail from the entry of the living room to the bedroom and bathroom, Zainea told the jury, “The living room and bedroom floors (were) littered with (shell) casings and live rounds and spent cartridges.”

“Before she was incapacitated, bleeding from her injuries,” Zainea said, “Heather made her way through the apartment, leaving her DNA in the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom, located just beyond her final resting place.”

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea makes the opening statement Wednesday in the murder trial of Mark Penley of Peru in Oxford County Superior Court in Paris. Penley is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend, Heather Bickford, and Dana Hill at Hill’s apartment in Paris on Jan. 1, 2019. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Bloody footprints at the scene “had an association of characteristics to a pair of the defendant’s boots” that were later seen at his home, Zainea said. Bickford’s blood was found on his left boot, she said.

Investigators found so many casings at the scene and unspent cartridges in the magazine of the gun found under Bickford’s hand that they determined the gun must have been reloaded, Zainea said.


Evidence recovered from the scene included a bloody fingerprint on a cellphone in a glitter case lying on a table in Hill’s living room. The blood was Bickford’s, but the fingerprint belonged to Penley, Zainea said.

DNA found on the magazine release lever on the .22-caliber Ruger found under Bickford’s hand showed Penley was a minor contributor to that DNA, Zainea said.

Investigators found .22-caliber ammunition that was the same type that killed Hill and Bickford tucked into a pocket on the driver’s side door of Penley’s vehicle, which he had driven to the crime scene that night, Zainea said.

During a search of Penley’s home, authorities found an empty gun box that matched the Ruger found at the crime scene, along with more ammunition that matched the type that killed Hill and Bickford, Zainea said.

Moreover, in Penley’s kitchen cabinet, investigators found a magazine for a Ruger identical to the one found at the crime scene. On that magazine was blood that matched Bickford’s DNA, Zainea said.

Although Hill and Bickford had been high school sweethearts and had even gone to the prom together, they had parted company, Bickford’s mother testified Wednesday.


Bickford lived with Penley for more than 10 years, but had moved out and into her sister’s home in Canton months before her death, Zainea said.

Hill was the father of both of Bickford’s daughters, suggesting she hadn’t been faithful to Penley during the time they had been together, Zainea said.

Bickford had reunited with Hill at the time of their deaths, Zainea said.

That “didn’t sit well” with Penley. He had left messages for Bickford for months leading up to her death, Zainea said, adding the jury would learn about those messages during the trial.

“You will hear from the defendant, what he wanted and what he thought,” Zainea said. “You will hear that he wanted HIS woman, as he referred to her, at HIS house, not Dana’s.

“You will hear how he wanted HIS woman, WHEN he wanted her. And you will hear that he wanted to see the kids because Heather owed him,” Zainea said.


“And as far back as September of 2018, the defendant said exactly what he was going to do to Dana. In a message to Heather, he told her he was going to kill Dana,” Zainea said. “It was just that simple.”

Shortly before she died, Bickford had planned to seek a protection from abuse order against Penley and had asked a local police officer to keep an eye out for Penley’s vehicle, Zainea said.

Defense attorney Maurice Porter offered the jury a different theory of the case, urging jurors to pay close attention to the timeline of events.

He said Penley’s boots didn’t match the bloody footprints left at the crime scene, according to the state’s expert. None of Hill’s DNA was found anywhere on Penley, including his clothes, his car, his home, his hair, nor his fingernails, Porter said.

“The evidence will also show you that this occurred in a very small apartment that had vast amounts of blood,” he said.

“The evidence, particularly the timeline, makes it almost impossible for Mark Penley to have committed these crimes,” his attorney said.

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