Jurors reviewed on Friday physical evidence taken from several homes connected to the 2011 stabbing death of a Wellborn teacher during the trial of Tyrone Thompson.
The evidence included a plastic bag with the defendant’s fingerprint, a bloody knife and stained clothing.
Tyrone Thompson, Jovon Gaston and Nicholas Smith were each charged in 2011 with kidnapping 29-year-old Kevin Thompson, forcing him to withdraw money from several ATMs and driving him to Cherokee County, where he was fatally stabbed and left on the side of U.S. 278.
Cherokee County deputies found Kevin Thompson’s body April 22, 2011, nearly two days after his death.
Former Anniston police crime scene investigator Travis Bentley, who went with officers on April 21, 2011,to the garage on Rocky Hollow Road where Kevin Thompson’s car was found, said he searched a camouflage-painted truck outside the garage.
While searching through trash in the bed of the truck, Bentley said, he found a plastic Hibbett Sports shopping bag with a fingerprint on it. Inside the bag, Bentley said, were some of Kevin Thompson’s belongings.
When he examined the bag later at the Anniston police crime laboratory, he discovered the fingerprint belonged to Tyrone Thompson.
Bentley said he later found several of Tyrone Thompson’s things, including clothes, shoes and receipts, in a trash bin at the home of his ex-girlfriend on East 10th Street. Prosecutors showed one of the items, a pair of boxer shorts with a reddish-brown stain on them, to jurors.
Paul Riddle, who worked in the Anniston police crime lab during the investigation, said he went on April 21, 2011, to Smith’s girlfriend’s home on Net Street, where found a steak knife with a reddish-brown substance wrapped in a piece of a shirt in the trash bin and a white pair of boxers with a stain of the same color in the house.
Riddle also found a pair of muddy high-tops in the trash bin. In the house, he also found jeans with mud on them and a Tupperware container marked, “Tyrone’s lunch.”
Riddle said he later determined at the lab that the reddish-brown color on the knife and boxer shorts was blood.
On April 25, 2011, Riddle said, he searched the dumpster of a detail shop where Nick Smith had the interior of his car detailed the morning after Thompson’s death. He said he found three socks with reddish-brown stains.
When Riddle later searched a gold Chrysler Pacifica on Ferron Avenue, he said, he found a wooden knife handle and a camouflage rifle in a case. Witnesses in previous testimonies have linked a gold Chrysler Pacifica to Jovon Gaston.
The next day, Riddle said, he searched the home of Gaston’s former girlfriend on Maple Street in Weaver and found Gaston’s clothing in a bedroom. Jamaal Pulliam, who lived at the house, said in previous testimony he grew concerned when he found muddy boots and a keyboard at the house. Riddle said he didn’t find those items during the search.
Forensic analyst Brendan Morgan reviewed copies of text messages which, prosecutors say, were sent by Tyrone Thompson’s cell phone to Smith’s phone.
On April 21, 2011, images showed, messages such as “Have you tried tha card yet?,” and “Kool get what u can and we go from there,” were sent from Tyrone Thompson’s phone.
Morgan also tracked phone calls and text messages from the three co-defendants, as well as Jessica foster and Whitney Ledlow, who were charged with hindering prosecution in connection with Tyrone Thompson’s case.
Records shown to the jury indicated that Tyrone Thompson and Jovon Gaston’s phones made numerous calls and text messages from around the Calhoun County area on April 20-21, 2011.
The records also showed the calls and texts by the cell phones of Smith, Ledlow and Foster on April 21, 2011, as they fled to Georgia shortly after Kevin Thompson’s death.
Smith and Gaston were both previously convicted of killing the schoolteacher and sentenced to death. The state Court of Appeals ruled last year in separate hearings to overturn their sentences after Kevin Thompson’s family called for the death penalty at their initial sentencing hearings.
Friday marked the fourth day of testimony in Tyrone Thompson’s trial. The trial is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday.