By Jena Johnson - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Frankie Landers says a piece of her died when her husband was brutally stabbed to death two years ago. Her life has drastically changed.
"I believe I can pick-up, but I'll never forget him," she said. "Thirty-four years -- I'll never forget him and the way he was taken out."
His accused killer is her son-in-law, Deandre Thomas.
"My husband was I'll say, broken down, walked with a cane, bad back and spurs in his neck and I think, 'Why?'" she said. "'Why did you have to kill him?'"
Deon Calhoun is Thomas' best friend. They went to the club together the night of the fight. But claims he didn't see a thing. Later, he went to leave and found Thomas in his car.
"He just really panicked and was just hollering out he can't believe what happened, why'd that have to happen to him," Calhoun said.
When Calhoun realized Landers was dead, he panicked.
"At the time I was scared for myself because he was in the car with me and people was calling me and made it like I was the getaway car," Calhoun said.
Now, he's scared for his best friend. He knows the gravity of charges Thomas faces.
"It would hurt because I think about it all the time that this could happen to anybody," Calhoun said. "You could be put in a situation at anytime where you have to defend yourself."
Landers forgives her son-in-law, but she says she can't forget what happened.
"I'm not angry anymore," Landers said. "More sad because 34 years is a long time with your spouse to just be snapped away from you."
Editor's note: Jena Johnson provided updates Tuesday on the trial. Below is the summary of the day's events.
In an effort to portray the victim as an elderly disabled man incapable of defending himself, the state called his doctor to the stand.
Deandre Thomas is on trial for the death of his father-in-law, Larry Landers.
During testimony Landers' chronic back problems came to light. Dr. Alexander Orlov testified he had prescribed Landers pain and anti anxiety medication. Orlov said all the medications prescribed to Landers caused sedation.
The defense called their first witness to the stand, Vanessa Price.
Price testified Landers was holding his own in the fight against Thomas.
"He was doing pretty good with the fight," she said. "He was throwing fists just like Deandre was."
During the course of the fight, she said Landers fell to the ground. It was then she made eye contact with Thomas, a look she said she can't forget.
"He [Thomas] had a look on his face like oh my God, what have I done," Price said.
She testified she felt Thomas feared for his life. "He was scared to death," Price said. "This is not what he wanted."
Price testified she called 911 in the early morning hours of March 15, 2008. While waiting for first responders to arrive, Price attempted to revive Landers by administering CPR.
The prosecution pointed out Price never gave a statement to police. She said no one asked her for one, so she went on with her life. Since two years have gone by since the fight, prosecuting attorney Tony Latino questioned the accuracy of her account.
"It's something I'll never forget," Price testified. "He died right there on the ground beside me."
The defense called Thomas' father, Doyle Thomas, as their second witness Tuesday morning. Thomas testified that sometime before the March 2008 stabbing death, Larry Landers blurted out he was going to kill Deandre Thomas.
This conversation happened in Doyle Thomas' living room. Doyle Thomas said Landers and his wife would normally come to their home to discuss disputes their children, who were married, had.
"I believed he [Deandre Thomas] was in danger," he said.
During testimony, Doyle Thomas said he believed Landers disliked his son, Deandre.
The prosecution said it's natural for fathers to want to protect their daughters and insisted Landers' was doing just that.
Doyle Thomas partially agreed, but said he felt Landers' went overboard.
The prosecution then asked if he understood how serious of a charge his son was facing.
"Sir, I regret what happened," said Doyle Thomas. "I truly do. But it could have went either way. He [Larry Landers] was the aggressor."