He was in bed in the house on his family's Ranburne chicken farm. Then 14, he'd awakened to the sound of his parents arguing down the hall, he told attorneys, jurors and the judge. The angry, shouted words — including the word "divorce" — ended after a loud thud.
Kyttle testified Wednesday at the trial of his father Edward Wilson Kyttle, 61, charged with the 1993 murder of his wife Eleanor Kyttle. Closing arguments in the trial are set for this morning.
The son, now 30, continued a story that at times sounded like a nightmare. After the thud, he told lead prosecutor Joe Hubbard, he laid in bed for a time, then got up to investigate. He found his father standing over his mother, motionless in her recliner, he said.
Kyttle said his father told him, "We've got to get her out of here."
The boy offered no resistance.
"You don't question your father," he told the court.
Mark and Edward Kyttle then unloaded farming equipment from a beat-up pickup they normally used to work with the chickens, he said.
His father told him to dress his mother and help load her into the truck, he said.
Eleanor Kyttle was unresponsive as he put on her coat and tennis shoes, he said.
He held her feet as Edward Kyttle carried her upper body, he said, loading her head-first into the bed of the truck.
On the stand, Kyttle said his father threatened to kill him if he told anyone what they'd done. His father drove away with Eleanor Kyttle in the back of the truck, leaving young Mark Kyttle at the house in the early-morning darkness.
Prosecutors say Edward Kyttle then drove into a nearby pond, his wife still unconscious in the back of the truck.
They've said Edward Kyttle had become involved with a co-worker at the Anniston Army Depot, Nancy Skinner. He'd wanted her to move in with his family, prosecutors said, leading to the argument with his wife that night.
Eleanor Kyttle's death cleared the way for Edward Kyttle to collect $200,000 in insurance money. Skinner moved into the house on the chicken farm about six months after the death, Mark Kyttle told the court Wednesday. After a few months there, the boy's father and his new girlfriend moved to Anniston, he said. Mark Kyttle managed to avoid moving in with them for about a year, staying with friends and relatives, he said.
He told no one about what had happened to his mother. He told investigators at the time that his mother had left with his father that night to go the hospital, as his father complained of abdominal pain. Both the boy and his father had said the crash into the pond was an accident, though details of their stories changed over time, prosecutors and the defense attorney said.
In their opening statement Monday, the defense said Eleanor Kyttle's drowning was an accident and that her husband had tried to save his wife.
Wednesday's testimony from Mark Kyttle is central to the prosecution's case. He is the only person who claims to have been an eyewitness at the scene of the attack.
Edward Kyttle took these accusations with the same attentive posture he's maintained for much of the trial.
Mark Kyttle said he went to the Calhoun/Cleburne County Cold Case Unit in 2006 because hiding the truth was too hard.
Under cross-examination, Mark Kyttle repeatedly said the differences between his original statements and current testimony was because he was 14 at the time.
The defense pointed to an interview in 2005, where Mark Kyttle essentially retold the story about his mother going with his father to the hospital.
Defense attorneys also highlighted his past use of cocaine, meth, crack and marijuana. He said he's been clean for the last two years, and denied that he was under the influence when he talked to investigators.
In a previous interview with the cold case unit, he had said his father stood in the hallway that night with a hammer.
That wasn't true, he told the defense attorney. He'd seen that in a dream he had of the event, he said.
Edward Kyttle remained largely passive as his son testified. When Mark Kyttle finished, Edward Kyttle stood up and said "I'd like, I'd like to make a statement."
Fred Lawton, one of his attorneys, seized his client's arm and said "sit down."
Closing arguments are set for 9 a.m. today. Each side will have 45 minutes to present its case.