Jurors watched on Wednesday around five hours of footage taken during Tyrone Thompson’s initial statements to police in the weeks after the death of 29-year-old Kevin Thompson, a Wellborn Elementary School teacher.
After nearly 10 videotaped hours of denying his involvement, Tyrone Thompson said he was present at the scene of Kevin Thompson’s death.
Tyrone Thompson said in one video the two other men charged with killing Kevin Thompson had threatened his life and were the ones responsible for the teacher’s death.
Tyrone Thompson, Nicholas Smith and Jovon Gaston were each charged in 2011 with capital murder after, police said, the three kidnapped and robbed Kevin Thompson before driving him to Cherokee County, fatally stabbing him, and leaving his body down an embankment off U.S. 278. Smith and Gaston have since been convicted of killing Kevin Thompson. Wednesday was the seventh day of testimony in the capital murder trial for Tyrone Thompson, the third and final defendant.
In the videos shown on Wednesday, Allen George, who worked with Anniston police during the investigation, spent hours trying to convince Tyrone Thompson to admit his involvement in Kevin Thompson’s death.
George, who had known Tyrone Thompson since he was a small child, said he believed Tyrone Thompson, Smith and Gaston had initially planned to get money from Kevin Thompson, but that things got out of hand.
“I want them to see Tyrone for who he is. Tyrone isn’t a killer,” George said in the video. “These other two guys are. Tyrone just made a mistake.”
While George didn’t personally believe Tyrone Thompson killed the teacher, he said in the video, the Calhoun County District Attorney’s Office and a jury would if Tyrone Thompson didn’t tell his side of the story.
George told Tyrone Thompson in the videos that Smith and Gaston had both placed him at the crime scene.
According to George, Smith told investigators Tyrone Thompson had held Kevin Thompson while Gaston slit his throat and Smith stabbed him repeatedly in the chest. George said Gaston told investigators Tyrone Thompson had stabbed Kevin Thompson while Gaston slit his throat and Smith held him.
If the DNA evidence taken from the scene was linked to Tyrone Thompson, George said in the video, it would reflect badly on him.
Tyrone Thompson repeatedly denied killing Kevin Thompson. He also expressed concerns that he would be charged with capital murder regardless of what he said to police.
In the final hour of the interview, Tyrone Thompson admitted to being at the scene. Tyrone Thompson said he tried to stop Smith and Gaston from killing, but they threatened to kill him too.
Tyrone Thompson said his co-defendants thrust Kevin Thompson onto him while Gaston tried to slit his throat.
Tyrone Thompson said Kevin Thompson started screaming for help and Smith stabbed him numerous times in the chest.
According to Tyrone Thompson, Gaston then started kicking Kevin Thompson down the embankment while wearing steel-toed boots.
“It hurt me so bad,” Tyrone Thompson said in the video. “I didn’t touch, stab, slit, restrain — none of that — to my friend.”
While on the witness stand Wednesday, George said Tyrone Thompson didn’t know he was being recorded during the interviews.
George said it was normal for an interview subject to deny involvement in a crime. When the subject gets closer to telling some version of the truth, they typically distance themselves from the victim.
This is evident, George said, when Tyrone referred to Kevin Thompson as his friend or best friend in earlier clips and later began referring to the victim as “that man.”
George said the objective of a police interview is to have the subject talk until they confess or are absolved.
Rena Mosley, Kevin Thompson’s sister, told jurors on the witness stand that Tyrone Thompson’s description of the friendship between him and her brother was “completely false.”
In videos shown over Tuesday and Wednesday, Tyrone Thompson said he and Kevin Thompson had lived together at one point and spent the last Thanksgiving together. Tyrone Thompson also claimed he and Kevin Thompson’s families were close and the two would drink and smoke together.
Sometimes, Tyrone Thompson said in a video, Kevin Thompson would go on vacation without telling anyone.
According to Mosley, Kevin Thompson’s mother was unable to identify Tyrone Thompson in photos taken near one of the ATMs Kevin Thompson was forced to withdraw money from.
Mosley also said Kevin Thompson didn’t smoke and never traveled without telling family members.
At a conference between prosecutors and defense attorneys after jurors were dismissed, both parties agreed that two counts of felony murder would be listed in the jury’s verdict sheets as lesser included charges.
Calhoun County District Judge Debra Jones, who presides over the case, said jurors could find Tyrone Thompson guilty of the lesser charges if they determined he did not intend specifically to kill Kevin Thompson while kidnapping him and robbing him.