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Friday, March 28, 2014

More Testimony In Claimed Self Defense Murder In Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Testimony: Defendant wanted 'to get away'
Accused in stabbing claims he was acting in self-defense

Stephan Thomas was a wanted man in the predawn hours of June 9, 2012, when he left his mother’s house and got into a car driven by Samantha Rath and carrying several other people.
Just hours earlier, Tyrese Huffman had been fatally stabbed outside 2055 Stonehenge Ave., Apt. D., and Bowling Green police were on their way to identifying Thomas as the suspect.

Before getting into Rath’s car, Thomas placed what appeared to be a duffel bag in the trunk.
“He said, ‘I have to get away from here,’ ” Alexandria Lockridge, a passenger in the car, said Thursday during Thomas’ trial for murder and tampering with physical evidence.
Thomas, 26, entered the third day of his trial in Warren Circuit Court, watching 11 witnesses testify for the prosecution.
Thomas has maintained that he acted in self-defense. He is represented by attorney John Stewart of Adams, Tenn.

Lockridge, Rath and Heaven Watson testified as part of Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron’s effort to build a case that Thomas tampered with evidence by burning clothing that he wore when he stabbed Huffman, 21, of Bowling Green, with a steak knife during a brawl in the parking lot.

The three women had been at the apartment of Shadee Hodges, who has a child in common with Thomas, for a party on the evening of June 8, 2012.
The group left later that night to go to a nightclub, so they did not witness the confrontation between Thomas and Dewayne Graves that ended with Huffman dead from a four-inch-deep stab wound to the neck, the blade of the steak knife having broken from the handle.
Watson testified that she received a call at the nightclub from D.J. Woodson early June 9, 2012, that caused her group to go back to the Stonehenge apartment, where they saw police cruisers dotting the area.

Rath’s car already was carrying four people when Hodges, her three children and Woodson climbed inside and left, Rath said.
Thomas joined them shortly afterward, and Watson’s memory of the events suggested Thomas had something to hide.
“He had a bag and put it in the trunk,” Watson testified. “(Thomas said), ‘I need to do something with
these clothes.’ ”
The group pulled up to a wooded area behind Regency Apartments that they referred to as “The Cut,” at which point Thomas and Woodson went back there for a few minutes, the three women testified.
Thomas and Woodson returned, saying nothing about what they did in “The Cut,” according to the women.
Rath said she dropped off Woodson, Watson and two of Hodges’ children before driving to the Wal-Mart on Morgantown Road, where Hodges went into the store and exited a few minutes later with a bag of candles.

The group then went to an apartment at 1313 Kenilwood Way where Hodges had once lived, and was now cleaning to work down debt she incurred living there, according to prior testimony.
Police get breakthrough
Thomas and Hodges were alone in the apartment by the time police converged shortly after daybreak June 9, 2012.

Officer David Grimsley of the Bowling Green Police Department testified Thursday that he and two other officers were dispatched to Kenilwood to locate a murder suspect.
Hodges let Grimsley inside after several minutes of steady knocking.
Grimsley performed a sweep of the first and second floors of the apartment when he noticed a missing tile that would have covered a crawl space in a bedroom closet.
“I started to hear a shuffling noise over my head,” Grimsley said.

Thomas had gone into hiding in the crawl space.
“Thomas’ feet actually broke through the ceiling essentially a few feet in front of me,” Grimsley said. Police arrested Thomas without resistance.
Officers collect evidence
Three city police officers testified about processing the crime scene in the aftermath of the stabbing.
Sgt. Matt Davis said that the broken knife handle was found at the base of a tree near the apartment, and a Styrofoam cup and a cigarette butt on the front steps of the apartment  also were preserved as evidence.

Davis took several photos at the scene, including pictures of a “long smear” of blood where Huffman was believed to have fallen after being stabbed and visible bloodstains on the front door.
A chunk of concrete found at the corner of a fence near the apartment also was collected, Davis said, explaining that he acted on information he received from a detective who said that a witness told him someone had thrown a rock during the melee.
“That was the only thing that halfway corroborated what the detective told me,” Davis said under cross-examination from Stewart.

Davis also went to Thomas’ house with a search warrant, collecting a T-shirt with suspected dried blood in the armpit area that was lying on a couch in Thomas’ bedroom.
Officer Rebecca Robbins took pictures of Huffman’s body after it had been cleaned, focusing on scratches on Huffman’s left forearm. The pictures showed the knife near the scratches.
Robbins said her training and observation led her to examine whether they were defensive wounds.
The Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, which performed the autopsy on Huffman, discounted that possibility, however.
Officer Brandon Stice took several pictures and DNA samples of Thomas himself.
Stewart pointed out that a picture of a tattoo of a pair of arms clasped in prayer featured some redness on the skin, and he asked Stice whether he noted any other visible bruises or injuries.
Stice said he did not consider the redness to be a bruise, testifying that he took a picture of the tattoo as a way to identify Thomas.

Officers discover burnt clothes, hidden gun

City police Detective Tim Buss said that a handgun matching the one that Darren Chamlee brought to the fatal altercation was discovered in a white garbage bag under a bridge on a walking trail near Russell Sims Aquatic Center.
Chamlee had testified that he unholstered his revolver and gave it to Joe Huffman, Tyrese’s brother, during the altercation, and Alexandra Lockridge testified Thursday that she saw Woodson with a gun in the front of his pants.
Police discovered the gun June 13, 2012, four days after the homicide. A T-shirt and a pair of boxer shorts with burn marks on them were discovered June 20 in a grassy area near the walking trails, Buss said.

Buss said the articles of clothing were found about 100 yards apart , and he estimated they had been lying where they were found for at least a few days, based on the dead grass under the clothes.
Shane Hardison of the Kentucky State Police West Regional Lab in Madisonville said that the boxer shorts, knife handle, knife blade and an unsmoked cigarette collected by police tested positive for the presence of blood, while Lyle Hall of the KSP Central Lab in Frankfort said DNA on the cigarette matched Thomas’ DNA, and Huffman’s DNA was located on the knife handle and blade.
The trial resumes today and is anticipated to continue beyond this week.

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