Evidence and phone records shown in capital murder trial
by Rachael Brown
rgriffin@annistonstar.com
Jun 28, 2013 | 8093 views |  0 comments | 327 327 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kevin Thompson teaches in his Wellborn Elementary School classroom in this file photo. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star/file)
Kevin Thompson teaches in his Wellborn Elementary School classroom in this file photo. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star/file)
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One day before law enforcement officers discovered Kevin Thompson’s body, investigators found traces of blood in Nicholas Smith’s car, according to testimony given Friday, the fourth day of Smith’s capital murder trial.

Smith, 24, Tyrone Thompson and Jovon Gaston, are accused of killing the Wellborn Elementary School teacher in April 2011. Prosecutors say the three men kidnapped Kevin Thompson from his Jacksonville apartment, robbed him of $400 at gunpoint, wrapped him in duct tape and stabbed the 29-year-old to death. Jurors this week watched a taped interview that showed Smith telling police he cut the third-grade teacher’s throat.

Shane Golden, a crime scene investigator with the Calhoun-Cleburne County Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force, told the courtroom Friday that on April 22, 2011 he processed evidence from a black 2002 Ford Explorer owned by Smith. Golden said he sprayed luminol, a substance that illuminates traces of blood, in Smith’s car and noted several areas where blood was present. Previous testimony noted Smith had his car thoroughly cleaned on April 21, but blood had remained in the vehicle’s upholstery.

The jury was not told whose blood was found in the vehicle.

During Golden’s testimony, jurors were shown several photos taken from the scene where Thompson’s body was discovered on April 23, 2011, near U.S. 278 in Cherokee County. The photos were not visible to onlookers, but were described by Golden and Calhoun County District Attorney Brian McVeigh.

A photo showed a close-up of the “deep cuts” to Thompson’s throat and gray duct tape on his neck, McVeigh said. One juror briefly glanced sideways at the screen that showed the images and then quickly look down at the floor.

Golden testified that Thompson’s body was discovered wearing boxer shorts and a T-shirt pulled up around his shoulders. His legs were muddy, Golden said. The investigator said it appeared a struggle had occurred near a guardrail, and red stains were found in the disturbed dirt.

Photos were also shown of tire tread-marks and shoe prints found at the crime scene.

Prosecutors also called Thompson’s mother, Frances Curry, to the stand today. She testified briefly about a watch found by investigators in a Yukon Denali owned by Smith’s close friend, Jessica Foster. Previous testimony noted Smith, Foster and another friend, Whitney Ledlow, drove the vehicle to Carrollton, Ga., and were later apprehended at the Atlanta airport on April 22, 2011.

McVeigh asked Curry whom the watch belonged to.

“My baby, Kevin,” was all Curry choked out through her tears.

Curry said the Seiko brand watch was given to her son as a graduation present.

This afternoon’s testimony from James Wigley, an investigative analyst for the U.S. Secret Service, showed jurors phone records from Kevin Thompson, Ledlow, Foster and the three men accused of the stabbing.

Wigley told jurors that Tyrone Thompson’s phone made contact with Kevin Thompson’s phone three times on April 20 between 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.

A phone owned by Foster, which previous testimony noted was occasionally borrowed by Smith, was used several times on April 21 between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. in Jacksonville and Piedmont, Wigley said.

A phone owned by Gaston was also used around the same time in the same location, the investigator noted.

Testimony in the case is scheduled to continue Monday morning at 9 a.m. Prosecutors say they expect to question the last of the state’s witnesses on Monday. After that, Smith’s attorneys will begin their defense.

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.



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