The mother of Trey Zwicker, a 14-year-old boy who was beaten to death in May 2011, testified in a Louisville, Kentucky, courtroom about events leading up to and following the death of her son.
Amanda McFarland didn't say much about how her 17-year-old stepson, Joshua Young, may have been involved in the murder of her son, but her story may help construct a timeline of what happened the night Zwicker died. Left with very little physical evidence, prosecutors will have to rely on witness accounts like McFarland's to put the details together.
Read more: Who is Joshua Young?
Young is on trial for "complicity to murder" and "complicity to tampering with physical evidence" for his alleged role in his stepbrother's death. Josh Gouker, Young's biological father and McFarland's then-husband, pleaded guilty to the murder, and was sentenced to life in prison on July 26. After initially blaming the murder on his son, Gouker confessed to the crime, claiming that he "snapped" when he confronted Zwicker about stealing from him. Gouker has since repeatedly said he acted alone and has tried to deflect any responsibility from Young.
Watch more: What happened during the window of death?
These nebulous accounts from Gouker -- as well as those from McFarland and Cassie Gouker, Josh Gouker's cousin who he was allegedly "involved with" -- are all police have to paint a picture of what happened on May 11, 2011, when Zwicker was killed. The problem, of course, is that their stories don't match up. Here's a look at what happened leading up to the murder and the inconsistencies in the key players' versions of events.
McFarland said she overheard a phone conversation between Gouker and his cousin Cassie when Gouker's phone accidentally called her. McFarland said she heard Gouker say "Amanda is expendable." She was pregnant at the time and thought Gouker's comment meant their relationship wasn't important to him, so she had an abortion.
Gouker and McFarland were "on and off" for about six months while Gouker was living with his cousin, who he was allegedly involved with sexually.
In an interview after Gouker claimed he killed Trey Zwicker, Gouker referenced McFarland's abortion, and stated, "Now we're even."
May 8, 2011
According to McFarland, she and Josh Gouker started talking again around this time.
They attend a cookout at Cassie Gouker's house, which is two doors down from McFarland's.
May 9, 2011
McFarland and Gouker went on a walk and went to the "ditch bank," an area near the local high school where kids from the neighborhood often hang out. This is the same ditch where Zwicker's body was found on May 11.
McFarland said they smoked cigarillos down there and then left after Gouker told her it wasn't safe there when he saw some people he knew.
McFarland said she didn't think they left anything there.
May 10, 2011
McFarland quit her job at McDonald's after Gouker told her he'd help her get by, but he didn't say how. During her testimony in court, McFarland said at the time she didn't think Gouker was actually capable of helping her, but the stress of her job and Gouker being back in the picture was so overwhelming, she quit anyway.
McFarland had a cookout at her house later that day with family and friends.
During his testimony Thursday in court, Jereme McFarland said he, Gouker, Joshua Young and Trey Zwicker played basketball during the cookout on May 10. He said Gouker was "chest-to-chest" with his son and said something along the lines of: "You never show mercy for anybody. You don't take it easy on me, you take 'em out if you have to."
McFarland said after the cookout, she went with Gouker to Cassie's house so he could get a change of clothes and a toothbrush. Gouker told her to stay on the porch. She said he was taking so long that she opened the front door and someone slammed it in her face, so she left. Gouker came after her and she said everything was fine by the time they got back to her house two doors down.
It's the events of that evening into the next morning -- the "window of death" -- where inconsistencies among the accounts really appear in full force:
| Event | Amanda McFarland's story | Josh Gouker's story |
| Trey comes out of house |
McFarland said she and Gouker were on the porch when Trey attempted to leave the house around 10 p.m. She said since it was a school night, she sent her son back to bed. That was the last time she saw her son alive.
| Gouker told the same story, that Trey tried to leave the house around 10 p.m. , but then he went back inside. |
| First sexual escapade | McFarland said she went back inside and then she and Gouker had sex around 11:30 p.m. | Gouker said he and Amanda had sex around 11 p.m. |
| "Circle K" | Surveillance video shows Gouker and McFarland at a nearby "Circle K" convenience store at 1:10 a.m. (May 11). McFarland said they bought cigarettes and then went straight back home. | Surveillance video shows Gouker and McFarland at a nearby "Circle K" convenience store at 1:10 a.m. (May 11). McFarland said they bought cigarettes and then went straight back home. |
| Second sexual escapade/Fell asleep |
When the two got back to McFarland's house, she said she and Gouker were "intimate" and he recorded it on her phone.
Gouker fell asleep "a little after 1 a.m."
She fell asleep between 1:00-1:30 a.m.
McFarland testified that she could only account for Gouker's whereabouts up until she fell asleep that night, which she thought was around 1:30 a.m.
| Gouker told police after they got home from "Circle K," around 2:30 a.m. they rolled a blunt, smoked half of it, then fell asleep. |
| Event |
Cassie Gouker's story
| Joshua Young admits to killing Trey Zwicker | Gouker's cousin Cassie Gouker told police she was woken up by Joshua Young around 2:30 a.m. saying, "I killed Trey, I killed Trey...get up you have to help me get rid of this stuff." |
| Joshua Young disposed of bag & bat | Took Young to a dumpster where he threw out a plastic bag and a bloody bat (which were never found by police). |
May 11, 2011
McFarland said she woke up on the morning of May 11 to some noises in the bathroom, but she didn't know what time it was. She said she didn't get up and just fell back asleep.
Gouker said he doesn't remember what time he woke up.
McFarland said she woke up later that morning when her alarm went off at 7:30 a.m. -- the time she needed to get up to get her daughter ready for school.
McFarland said Gouker told her not to get up and to keep sleeping -- he would get her daughter ready and on the school bus. McFarland said she stayed in bed a little longer and after her daughter left for school, she got up for the day.
McFarland and Gouker went to look at houses during the day, before they were alerted to Trey's death, and Gouker allegedly told the realtor that the couple had two kids. At the time, Gouker had one child (Joshua Young) and McFarland had two children (Trey Zwicker and MacKenzie Savage).
According to Molly Varner, a teacher at Liberty High School, she took her students for a walk behind the school at about 1 p.m., when her students found Zwicker's dead body in a ditch.