Lufkin man takes stand in his own murder trial

Rodney Shepherd (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Rodney Shepherd (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Frederic Gilmore (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Frederic Gilmore (Source: Angelina County Jail)

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man, accused of stabbing and killing his roommate, took the stand in his own defense in the second day of the trial Tuesday morning.

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.

In Tuesday morning's testimony, prosecuting attorney Dale Summa had the defendant stand in front of jurors and demonstrate what led to the stabbing.

"He had the stick drew back. He never did swing. And, when he saw my knife, he dropped the stick," said Shepherd.

"Which hand did you have the knife in?" said Summa.

"My right hand," said Shepherd.

"When I pulled the knife out and started toward him, he started backing up," said Shepherd.

"He had went down like he was going to try to scoop me up," said Shepherd. "I just swung. I wasn't aiming nowhere because I didn't know if he was trying to scoop me, dump me, or what."

"I knew I had hit him. I didn't know where, but I knew because I saw the blood on his shirt."

Shepherd said blood immediately appeared on Gilmore's shirt after he swung. Shepherd said Gilmore was unaware

"I said Fred, Fred, you okay?" said the defendant. Shepherd said once Gilmore went down he did not get up again. He said he held Gilmore, and blood covered his hands as he held him.

The prosecutor asked Shepherd if he was certain he only swung once at Gilmore, and the defendant replied that he only swung once. Shepherd said as Gilmore fell to the ground, he pulled Shepherd's glasses with him.

The prosecution questioned the defendant, once again, about his intentions in swinging the knife at Gilmore. Shepherd told jurors he swung as more of a reaction.

"I was intending to keep him off of me," said Shepherd.

After Gilmore was cut, Shepherd said he was looking to see where the knife cut Gilmore. Shepherd said where Gilmore fell was not far off from where he was cut.

The prosecutor then asked Shepherd about differences in his interviews with police officers. Summa pointed out that Shepherd's testimony in court on Tuesday was similar to information he gave officers in March.

"Are there some differences in what you told officers?" said Summa.

"I had left out some of the stuff that I just told," said Shepherd.

Shepherd requested, at one point while he was in jail, to speak with a detective of the Lufkin Police Department to share more details about the night of the stabbing.

Shepherd also explained to jurors he had four lighters on him and another smaller knife on him. He said that he had blood in his beard due to his hands being covered in Gilmore's blood as he was tending to him. Shepherd said he scratched his beard and also reached behind his ear to grab a cigarette to smoke.

"Your testimony is that you did not use any alcohol or any illegal drug that day?" said Summa.

"No sir," said Shepherd.

Shepherd went on to explain that when he used drugs or alcohol that it would not alter his mood.

Summa asked the defendant about another aggravated assault charge. Shepherd explained that he accepted a plea bargain for a drug charge, but pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault.

"I was never convicted of that charge," said Shepherd. "I was never indicted of that charge."

Summa pointed out that Shepherd's probation was previously revoked for use of marijuana.

"That's me, but I didn't stab nobody," said Shepherd.

Summa further discussed the court documents he held, which he states have Shepherd's fingerprint in the ruling of another aggravated assault.

"Did you cut a Mr. Tidwell with a knife?" said Summa.

"Yes I did," said Shepherd.

Summa then redirected his questioning toward the incident with Gilmore. He asked Shepherd if he was honest in all of his testimony, especially his initial testimony with Detective Brad Havard of the Lufkin Police Department.

"They were accurate, but I left out the part about crack cocaine," said Shepherd.

With no further questions, Shepherd was dismissed from the stand, and the defense rested. The state then called for rebuttal testimony.

Summa called upon Havard and asked a few brief questions about the interview process of the police department. He then played Shepherd's interview with Havard.

In the interview, Shepherd said he arrived to the house on his bike. He said he knocked on his wife's window, and she came to the door to let him in. Shepherd said he then went to his bedroom, and his wife came back into the room. Shepherd said he told her to go back to the front because her cousin, Gilmore, was there, sitting on the couch when he arrived. Shepherd said he was upset with Gilmore.

"I been hearing he been in the streets talking about me, just like her momma do," said Shepherd.

Shepherd said shortly sometime after, Gilmore came into the bedroom, and Shepherd said he asked Gilmore for a cigarette. An argument began, but Shepherd said his wife came and got Gilmore and took him back to the front. Shepherd said he then decided to go get back on his bike and leave for a little while. He said that's when Gilmore followed him "talking noise".

"I told him to step to me like a man," said Shepherd.

Shepherd said Gilmore then went into the house to get a piece of wood to fight.

"He pulled out that stick and hit me on the arm. That's when I pulled out my knife," said Shepherd.

Shepherd then said a fight ensued.

"After we started tussling, I might have stabbed him," said Shepherd. "I swung on him two times," said Shepherd.

Havard asked Shepherd who was at the home at the time of the confrontation.

"It was Anita, Fred, and Brittany," said Shepherd. Shepherd told Havard he and Anita were legally married for several years.

Shepherd said Anita took off before the stabbing began. "When he hit me and she seen me pull that knife out, she disappeared. She knows I don't play," said Shepherd.

Shepherd said Gilmore had been talking about him and his wife "in the streets" three weeks earlier. Shepherd said he really hadn't spoken to Gilmore in some time.

In the interview, Havard asked Shepherd again how many times he swung, and Shepherd said he did not know. Shepherd said Gilmore pulled his glasses off of his face after he swung the first time.

Havard again asked Shepherd how many times he swung, and Shepherd told him he just swung once. Havard then pointed out to Shepherd that he told him earlier that he swung twice. Shepherd then responded by saying he didn't know how many times. Havard then asked Shepherd specifically what he heard Gilmore said about him.

"He said me and my old lady laying up on his auntie and just a bunch of stuff," said Shepherd.

Havard asked Shepherd why Anita ran from the scene. Shepherd said he assumed his wife may have had probation violations. Shepherd said Anita told him, "don't mention my name." Shepherd explained he had previous run-ins with the law, where he ran. He said this time he did not run because he did not want to get in trouble. Shepherd maintained he was not in the wrong "he hit me first, I didn't touch him."

Shepherd told Havard he believed his wife ended up going next door to a neighbor's house. The woman he said lived there was named Tina.

In the video, Shepperd claimed he struck in self defense. He said he had no reason to run from authorities because he was defending himself. "That's what was going through my head, defend myself."

In the police interview, the officer tells Shepherd Gilmore has died, and Shepherd can be heard crying.

"I was not intending to put my hands on Fred. I didn't intend to do no bodily harm," said Shepherd. "Man, I loved Fred. Fred stayed with me."

Both counsels rested Tuesday afternoon. Closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m.

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