Jurors watch interview with Lufkin murder suspect - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Jurors watch interview with Lufkin murder suspect

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) -

A Lufkin Police Department investigator told jurors Wednesday morning that a murder suspect's car appeared to have been cleaned out the day he searched it for evidence.

Cpl. Travis Strickland took the stand in the second day of Kendall Thompson's murder trial and told jurors he searched Thompson's car. The investigator said he found it odd that her car was cleaned out.

Kendall Thompson's murder trial began Tuesday morning in District Judge Barry Bryan's courtroom with Thompson pleading not guilty to murder.

Thompson, her then-boyfriend, Elton Leroyce "June" Gibson Jr., of Lufkin, and Johnx Ray Greer, 20, of Lufkin, are charged in the death of Joseph Cooper on Cottonbelt Street in Lufkin.

According to an arrest affidavit, a witness said Cooper was in the house when he heard gunshots outside. He then went outside and about five to ten minutes later, Cooper was hit by a bullet.

The affidavit states Cooper was not involved in the initial conflict on the street, which began when a man "pie-faced" Thompson. Thompson left the scene and returned with Gibson and Greer and one of them fired the gun at the house, according to the affidavit.

Strickland said there was no doubt Cooper died from a "single gunshot wound."

The officer went on to discuss his encounter with another witness, one of Thompson's friends, Nicole Jones. He said initially Jones wasn't tough to contact, but after their first interview, she couldn't be reached. He said her timeline was skewed.

"Timeline, there's no way possible it could've lined up," said Strickland.

He went on to talk about Greer's cell phone they recovered. He said it had been dumped in a liquid, complicating the process of getting information off the device. The witness walked the jury through all the contacts he had photographed from Greer's phone including one titled "June" and "Kendall."

Strickland went on to say there were two photographs of images on Greer's phone. He said one of them displayed a medallion reading "HCC" between two firearms. He said it is often an acronym for a gang.

He said the numbers in Thompson, Greer, and Jones' phones all were very valuable in the investigation.

The investigator said Greer doesn't know Jones, yet there was a call to Jones from Greer's phone. He said Thompson had used Greer's phone to make the call.

"The phone calls are made during the shooting," said Strickland clarifying.

He was able to put together a timeline through surveillance video he obtained at various local businesses.

"I located where the vehicles were pulling off of 69 onto Joyce Lane, towards the residence," said Strickland. "What happened, happened, I'm just trying to figure out what time everything happened."

Strickland told jurors he advised Thompson of her rights prior to an interview with law enforcement, but she waived them. He said at one point Thompson asked him if she should get an attorney, but he told her it was up to her and she would have to invoke her right to an attorney. However, he said she kept talking.

In a taped interview between the defendant, Strickland, and Investigator Gabe Wall, Thompson talked about the night she dropped some girls off at Cooper's Cottonbelt home.

She said Narvlee Young got into a big fight with some people at the home.

The suspect told officers one man tried to pull her out of the car, but nobody laid hands on her. She said a man recognized her and explained to the man that she wasn't the girl they were looking for.

"He did not punch me, slap me, he tried to grab me by my bra, that's it," Thompson later explained.

Thompson explained that she was trying to get Young back into the car so she could leave. She told detectives Young was out of control. She said she kept telling Young she didn't want to be at the Cottonbelt house and she was pregnant.

She said Narvlee "Sierra" Young got all fired up after the altercation. Thompson said she wanted to leave and she was scared.

"I'm going to come back and shoot this house up," Thompson said Young was shouting.

She said Narvlee Young was stubborn and later she was telling everyone that a bunch of men jumped her early during the night of the Cottonbelt shooting.

"She's the last person screaming she's going to shoot the house up and then," said Thompson. "She had to have known that it was going to be some sort of fight or drama."

She said Gibson went with her to meet her friend Jones later that night after the altercation and she had dropped Young off.

She said she stayed in Etoile with Jones the night Cooper was killed.

"I usually stay with my mom, but she's been really mad at me lately," Thompson told detectives. She said she had been staying with Jones.

Investigators began questioning her about what she knew about of the January 2010 night.

"I heard my car came over there," said Thompson. The woman said she had heard a lot of rumors through friends and text messages about what happened that night. She said she did know that a man died that night.

Detectives continued asking Thompson about what Narvlee Young was saying that night.

"I'm going to come back and blow this [expletive] up," said Thompson. "She snapped."

Thompson told detectives Narvlee Young later shot a gun once in the air when they got to another home.  Thompson said she dropped Young off and saw Gibson, so he got in the car with her.

"She [Young] almost got me killed at Cottonbelt," Thompson said she told Gibson.

Thompson said as soon as Gibson got in the car with her, Narvlee Young took off in her own car.

"She [Young] is going to have people looking for her, she should've never gone over there in the first place," Thompson said Gibson told her.

"They didn't waste any time," said Thompson.

The defendant told officers she wanted to be honest with them.

"I'm not lying to y'all about anything," said Thompson.

The detective told Thompson her car was placed on the scene of the crime that night.

"None of us knew about the gun stuff until the next day," she said.

Thompson said they met Jones at a local store so they could follow her to the Etoile home, but it was not pre-planned.

The detective asked Thompson if they could search her car and a forensic specialist could look at her phone and she allowed them to look.

The detective explained to Thompson there had been a murder and she was being interviewed because her car was put at the scene.

"I want you to understand that sometimes people are at the wrong place at the wrong time," said one investigator.

He said if she isn't telling the truth he wanted her to understand the consequences.

"Basically you can't put anything past y'all," said Thompson, explaining that she understood.

She told investigators she had not washed her car since the incident.

Thompson did admit she has used marijuana and pills in the past.

"I've made the mistakes that I've made, I've chose to hang out with people," said Thompson.

The detective told her either you're a witness to an assault or you're a possible suspect in the murder.

"Right now that's just what you are until I can prove otherwise," said an investigator.

The detective explained to Thompson there had been a murder and she was being interviewed because her car was put at the scene.

"I want you to understand that sometimes people are at the wrong place at the wrong time," said one investigator.

He said if she isn't telling the truth he wanted her to understand the consequences.

"Basically you can't put anything past y'all," said Thompson explaining that she understood.

She told investigators she had not washed her car since the incident.

Thompson did admit she has used marijuana and pills in the past.

"I've made the mistakes that I've made, I've chose to hang out with people," said Thompson.

The detective told her either you're a witness to an assault or you're a possible suspect in the murder.

"Right now that's just what you are until I can prove otherwise," said an investigator.

Thompson said she will do her best to get Gibson to come to the police department to talk to them.

"The longer he stays away from us, the worse it looks on him," said the investigator.

Thompson said she isn't lying to investigators and she is scared for her safety.

"When you kill somebody, you don't kill them you kill their whole family," said Thompson.

In a taped interview, Thompson said she was talking to Greer and her then-boyfriend Gibson about the earlier altercation. She said Gibson was really mad at her for going over to Cottonbelt Street.

"I thought he might kill me sometimes…but he wasn't like that that night, not at all," said Thompson.

The woman told detectives Greer was asking Gibson if he was just going to let them mess with his girl. However, Gibson said that was his family over there.

She said she did not want to go back over to the Cottonbelt home.

"I'm not going back over to that house," Thompson said she told Greer and Gibson.

Thompson said they got in the car to get some weed and once she realized where they were, close to the Cottonbelt house, she said she started saying she didn't want to go there.

"I still don't know exactly what happened," said Thompson. "I didn't want to go put myself in harm's way again."

"I'm not capable of something like that," said the defendant. "It wasn't serious enough to me…I didn't get beat up."

The investigator tells Thompson she's looking at the rest of her life in prison. He said he was hoping Thompson would just tell them the truth.

"He [Gibson] did put some of it off on you," said the investigator.  "June [Gibson] told us everything…which is why you're sitting here."

The investigator explained that in the state of Texas, all she has to be is in the car to be charged with murder.

"I'm asking you to tell me the truth Kendall and you can't even do that," said the detective.

"I honestly did not know what was going to happen," said Thompson crying. "I didn't know anything. I didn't know any of that. I thought we were going to get the weed. That's the only thing I was told."

She claims they were getting close to the house and she was really upset because she didn't want to go back there.

"I got out of the car…I didn't want to drive, I couldn't do it," said Thompson. She said she even got out of the car.

"I don't care you can do whatever you want to do to me….but I'm not going back over there," Thompson said she told the two men.

Initially she told detectives she stayed out of the car and she wasn't even in the car when the shooting happened, but then she changed her story.

"I was out of the car and I should've stayed out of the car," Thompson said. "I didn't know."

"I wasn't driving," said Thompson. "June [Gibson] was driving. I was sitting in the front seat; facing the window…I was disgusted."

She said Gibson said he just wanted to have a long talk with the people at Cottonbelt the next day.

"Johnx said I don't give an [expletive,] I don't give an [expletive] and he just got the gun and started firing," said Thompson.

The suspect said she doesn't think Greer shot more than five shots, but she doesn't know exactly.

"I just know that June [Gibson], he was astonished," she said.

The defendant said she was almost positive Gibson knew what Greer's intentions were.

"I did not drive the car, I will not go back on that," said Thompson. "I didn't know it was going to go down like that."

"The only reason I got out of the driver's seat is because I was getting yelled at, screamed at, and I did not want to drive," said Thompson.

She said Gibson tried to blame her for that night saying it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for her making a big deal about getting beat up. However, Thompson said she never made a big deal about it.

The detective began asking her about cleaning out her car.

"I had no shell casings in my car," said Thompson.

"I'm guilty definitely of hanging out with the wrong people," Thompson later said.

She said she didn't tell the truth to begin with because she was scared.  Apparently a family member of one of the two men called her and told her she better get everything straightened out. She said she feared for her family's safety.

The investigator said he's not going to lie to her and tell her everyone is going to be safe.

Thompson later said Greer was the one that fired the gun.

"If I would've known he [Greer] had a gun, he would not have gotten in my car," said Thompson.

The tape ended and the state continued questioning Strickland.

He said he had talked to Gibson prior to talking to Thompson in the taped interview.

Strickland talked the jury through phone records officers had obtained from Thompson's phone.

He said the phone records allowed him to put Greer and Thompson together at the time of the shooting.

Defense attorney Al Charanza pointed out Gibson waited several months before ever giving up Greer as the shooter.

Charanza also explained Thompson had said something about being scared of possible gang members in the area if she told authorities the truth.

Strickland admitted he had put in a patrol request to watch the area around Thompson's mother's house.

A jail phone call was also discussed where Gibson told Thompson if worse came to worse, "she would not go down, he would take it."

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