LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A murder trial began Monday morning for a Lufkin man accused of stabbing another man to death.
Rodney Evan Shepherd, 44, is charged with the murder of Frederic Gilmore.
According to the police report, Lufkin Police officers responded to a disturbance call at 11:01 p.m. at 908 Rowe Avenue on March 6. When they arrived, they found Frederic Gilmore, a resident at the house, laying in the front yard with a wound to his neck. He was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
Also on scene was Shepherd, another resident at the house, who told officers he had stabbed Gilmore, according to the report. Officers recovered the knife out of his pocket and arrested Shepherd, according to the report.
Following interviews with detectives, Shepherd was booked into the Angelina County Jail on a charge of murder.
Police say the two began arguing over an unknown issue inside the house. The argument then turned into a physical fight outside.
Opening arguments began in District Judge Paul White's courtroom with prosecuting attorney Dale Summa recounting the incidents that led to Gilmore's death to the jurors.
"Mr. Gilmore was deceased at the hospital," said Summa.
Summa also suggested that if help had been available to Gilmore at the scene, he may have held a greater chance for survival.
Summa explained to jurors that there are two separate charges against Shepherd, including aggravated assault. He explained what some witnesses say Shepherd's motives may have been behind attacking Gilmore.
"Perhaps Mr. Gilmore was saying something about him in the 'street' and he didn't like it," said Summa. "At one point, it was said the defendant threatened to kill Mr. Gilmore."
The defense declined to make an opening statement following the prosecution's statement.
The state then called upon Camille Perry, a dispatcher with the Lufkin Police Department, as its first witness.
The prosecution played the 9-1-1 dispatch call that Perry responded to the night Gilmore was stabbed.
The state called Lufkin Police Officer Chris Nash as the next witness.
"A disturbance in progress that was advised to me by my dispatchers and there was a possible stabbing on the scene," said Nash when Summa asked him about responding to the disturbance call in March.
Nash described seeing Gilmore laying face-down on the ground, not moving.
"His right eye was a really hazy grayish color," said Nash.
Nash said he tried to shake Gilmore to get a response but was unsuccessful.
"I then called dispatch and told them to keep the med units coming," said Nash.
Nash recalled Shepherd telling him where the knife was located and says Shepherd was placed into his patrol car.
The state used pictures, taken by Nash and other Lufkin Police officers during the initial investigation, to show jurors what the scene looked like when officers arrived.
In cross-examination, Shepherd's attorney, Bill Agnew, asked about Shepherd's attitude toward officers when they arrived. Nash replied that Shepherd was cooperative, and he described that no one was immediately standing by Shepherd when officers arrived.
"There was no one near him. There were people around him, maybe forty, fifty feet away," said Nash.
Agnew then turned his attention toward the autopsy performed on Gilmore's body.
"He was positive for both alcohol and cocaine," said Agnew.
Agnew and Nash briefly discussed how the presence of alcohol and drugs can alter a person's behavior.
Rusty Waters was called upon as the next witness. He is an officer with the Lufkin Police Department. Summa asked Waters about what he saw when he responded to the disturbance call.
"I saw Sergeant Shirley trying to render aid to someone who was bleeding profusely," said Waters. "So, I started taking photos of the scene."
Summa presented the pictures Waters took to the jury. Waters described pictures illustrating stab wounds to Gilmore's neck and body. Waters also took photos of the scene outside, showing where blood was in the street and on the sidewalk. He also described where Gilmore's body was found.
"I took photos where I had seen blood in the middle of the street," said Waters.
With no questions from the defense, Waters was dismissed from the stand.
Summa called upon Lee Jowell, an officer with the Lufkin Police Department, as the next witness.
Jowell explained he took custody of Gilmore's clothing, eyeglasses, wallet, lighter, cigarettes and keys from the scene.
"I placed the clothing items that were bloody into a paper sack and secured them. Then, they were taken to the police department," said Jowell.
"At the time that you took them, was Mr. Gilmore deceased?" said Summa.
"Yes, he was," said Jowell.
The defense asked the witness about the glasses collected from the scene. Jowell said the glasses appeared to be prescription and were found by Gilmore's legs at the scene.
Agnew asked the officer about finding a Brillo pad in the pocket of Gilmore's clothing and why it was significant.
"It was commonly used as an item to smoke things such as crack," said Jowell. Jowell further explained that the Brillo pad would be used more or less as a filter.
The state called upon Angelina County Constable Thomas Lee Selman Jr. as the next witness.
"I was the third officer to arrive on the scene," said Selman.
Selman said Shepherd admitted to stabbing Gilmore, and Selman said he and officer Nash detained Shepherd at the scene for further questioning.
"I asked him where the knife was, and he said it was in his pocket," said Selman.
With a few brief questions from both counsels, Selman was dismissed from the stand.
Summa called upon his next witness, Keith Louie, who works for Lufkin Police Department. A video showing images from the scene was then played for jurors.
"Does that appear to be blood," said Summa to the witness.
"Yes, it is," said Louie.
After a brief discussion about the images, Louie was dismissed.
Jeremy Charvoz of the Lufkin Police department took the stand next, telling jurors that he also responded to the scene of the public disturbance in March.
"There was blood on the ground," recalled Charvoz. "The first blood we saw was in the roadway, but there were several blood trails."
The state then called upon Brittany Smith, who testified she is a cousin of Gilmore. She testified Anita Shepherd is her sister, who is common-law married to the defendant. Summa asked the witness who all lived in her house.
"My grandmother, me, my sister, and Rodney," said Smith.
Summa then asked the witness whose house it was where the March disturbance took place.
"My aunt's house, Sally Mae Johnson," said Smith. Smith said that same aunt is a sister of her grandmother.
Smith said the night of the stabbing it was just her and her sister at home originally. She said her grandmother was at work, and Gilmore came over to the house and gave her sinus medicine.
Gilmore, she says, went to the restroom, and that's around the time Shepherd came to the house. Shortly after, she said the fight started.
"It was about something he said he heard about Frederic talking about him," said Smith.
Smith said Shepherd appeared to be under the influence of something, but she was not sure what it was. She said the argument escalated into Shepherd threatening Gilmore.
"He said come outside basically. It was an argument and it turned into something else. He said I'm going to kill you. I'm going to kill you tonight," said Smith. "He kept repeating I'm going to kill you tonight."
Smith said she first saw Shepherd holding an open knife inside of the house while threatening Gilmore's life.
"That's when I began calling my mom," said Smith.
Summa then asked the witness about the layout of the house. Smith described where her bedroom was in relation to her sister's room and the bathroom. She also told jurors Shepherd stayed at the house every night.
Smith said Shepherd went outside of the house, and Gilmore followed him with a stick from inside of the house. Smith said she was finally able to get in contact with her mother after the two men went outside.
"Rodney and Fred over here fighting is what I told her," said Smith. Then she said she called police, as her mother instructed her.
Summa asked the witness about another female voice heard in the 911 call played earlier. Smith says the voice was that of her sister's.
"When Frederic was down, she was in shock and said, oh I got to go. So, she left," said Smith.