LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - ?
During day two of testimony in the jury trial for Corey Fleming, the suspect in a series of door-kick burglaries that occurred in Lufkin in 2012, a home owner took the stand and said she was “about 75 percent” sure that her husband scared Fleming off before he could break into their house.
Fleming, 44, of Lufkin, was indicted on eight third-degree felony burglary of a habitation charges in January of 2013. At the time of his arrest, he was also charged with a parole warrant for manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance, and two misdemeanor traffic charges.
Collectively, his bail was set at $1.22 million.
Fleming is being tried in Judge Paul White's 159th Judicial District Court.
When Sandra Knierim took the stand, she recalled the night that Fleming was arrested. She said that she remembered that it was election night, and she was in her home.
“I have an oval glass door,” Sandra Knierim said. “When I came around the corner I noticed a black man running towards my door.”
She told prosecuting attorney Art Bauereiss that she knew there was something going on based on the police activity.
“When I saw him walking, I said, ‘John get your gun' because I thought he was going to get into our house,” Sandra Knierim said.
Sandra Knierim said after police caught Fleming, she took officers inside her kitchen and told them that she wanted to describe the man before they were taken to point him out.
“I wanted to do that because I have written several crime statements, and I wanted it to not be me just pointing out someone,” Sandra Knierim said. “I wanted to make sure they knew I knew what I saw.”
Sandra Knierim said she was sure about 75 percent that Fleming was the suspect.
“I thought that was him, but it was 7 pm and it did not have the best lighting at the time,” Sandra Knierim said.
Sandra Knierim told defense attorney John Tunnel that she only saw Fleming on her porch for about three to five seconds. Sandra Knierim said he was around 6-foot-1. She also said she was only shown Fleming and had not been asked to pick him out of a line-up, or group of photos.
Sandra Knierim agreed with Tunnell that she could be about 30 percent wrong in identifying Fleming as the suspect.
Sandra Knierim told Bauereiss that she thought Fleming went to the left, and when her husband came outside, he did not see him anymore. Sandra Knierim said it seemed like it all happened quickly when police detained him. She also said she thought it was around 30 minutes.
Sandra Knierim told Tunnell she did not see Fleming carrying anything with him.
After Sandra Knierim finished, her husband John Knierim took the stand.
“I was in the bedroom cleaning my gun,” John Knierim said. “My wife hollered, and I went down stairs. She was upset. I ran outside and did not see anything.”
John Knierim said a police car drove by and he flagged them down, so he could get their attention.?
Bradley Baker, a retired Lufkin Police officer took the stand. Baker was a patrol officer in Lufkin. Baker said he was working the night Fleming was picked up by police.
“We did not receive a call,” Baker said. “We were driving around and someone alerted us. We were driving patrol and saw a gentleman with a gun in his hand. That is unusual in Crown Colony.”
Baker said they asked John Knierim to drop the gun and he did without any problems. Baker said Knierim told him that there was an intruder in the area, and that police started getting the information.
“They said it was a stocky, heavy-set black male that came to their house,” Baker said.
Baker said he was later dispatched to River Oaks Street for a burglary that had already occurred. Baker said he went there, and there was a female outside that was upset because her house had been burglarized. Baker said the door that was allegedly broken through was a door that did not have a strong lock on it.
Baker told Tunnell that in certain cases, the crime scene unit is responsible for doing a more in-depth search. Baker said this case was not one of those. Baker said he did not look for DNA, search for footprints, or take photographs at the scene.
Baker said the homeowner told him that one person stopped by that was unusual was a white male that said he worked for a tree-cutting service. Baker said he was told by the homeowner that there were things taken and was able to name several items.
Bauereiss then went back to the detaining of Fleming. Baker said he did not see any officer detain Fleming near the Knierim home but did see Fleming being detained further down the road in Crown Colony.?
Scott Marcotte took the stand to describe what he remembered of the night that Fleming was arrested. Marcotte currently works for Windco, but he was the police chief for the City of Lufkin at the time.
Marcotte told Bauereiss that in the summer of 2012 there was a string of crimes in the city.
“It got to a crisis point with the department,” Marcotte said. “They were happening so frequently it brought concern.”
Marcotte said on Nov. 6 he was working late hours because of the burglaries that were happening.
“We repositioned the shifts because of the burglaries,” Marcotte said.
Marcotte said a lot of the focuses for the shifts became burglaries and that he would work every other day until midnight.
Marcotte said that he received a call from a witness that they saw a large black male running from a home. Marcotte said when he was given the call he went to close the gates on Temple Drive. Marcotte said residents in the area were curious and would question him.
Marcotte told Tunnell that he did not make any reports from that night involving a run-in with Fleming and his officers. Marcotte told Tunnell he was involved the next day with a search but did not make any report.
“All I did was coordinate the case,” Marcotte said.
Marcotte then pointed out Fleming in the courtroom as the defendant from the police activity on the night of Nov. 6.
Marcotte said that night, Fleming was sweating a lot and that he thought that was unusual.
“We had been in the elements for hours, and we didn't look like that,” Marcotte said.
Officer Jennifer Payne would next describe her views of the event. Payne is a patrol officer for the City of Lufkin.
Payne said on the night of Nov .6, 2012, she was working an overtime shift to help catch the “door-kick” burglar. Payne recalled hearing a call come across that a homeowner was chasing a black male.
The jury was then shown a piece of video from Payne's patrol unit. While going to the scene, Payne pulled over a car that failed to give her right of way. Payne said the car was coming out of Deerwood Two. Payne said the person in the car is Fleming and pointed him out in the courtroom. Payne said he did not look normal. Payne said he was sweating and was covered in grass.
In the video, Payne questions the suspect believed to be Fleming about why he was speeding out of the apartments. Payne asked the suspect why he tried to avoid chief (Marcotte) and would not tell him where he was coming from.
Payne told Bauereiss that Fleming was arrested for failure to give right of way and having an invalid license.
Patrol officer Rusty Waters was the second witness of the afternoon session. Waters said when he got to the area, him and other officers started to make a perimeter.
“I first went to Deerwood One,” Waters said. “When I was there, I noticed officer Payne conducting a traffic stop [on Fleming].”
Waters said he assisted once Payne noticed that Fleming was operating the vehicle without a license. Waters said after assisting Payne, he went to Deerwood Two to look around.
? David Garza with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission then took the stand. At the time of the alleged burglaries, Garza was with the Lufkin Police Department. Garza said he was part of a task force that patrolled Lufkin after hours during the burglaries.
“There was a certain pattern,” Garza said. The break-ins were similar, and they happened around the same side of town.”
Garza recalled what he found at the Deerwood apartments.
“I walked around the first building,” Garza said. “Then I walked around the laundry building, and I found a flashlight and some gloves.”
Garza said when he first went to the scene, he got muddy. Garza said he did not get muddy on the street and sidewalk.
Sgt. Scott Abbott of the Lufkin Police Department said the crimes started about mid to late August of 2012.
"We started to see a pattern and we believed it was one person," Abbott said. "We started trying to identify that one person. That was in late September."
"They were usually done in doubles, where two houses next to each other were hit," Abbott said. "There was a habit of kicking in the back door. Whoever was doing this was cutting the outside wires. We had a similar footprint on scenes. The burglaries were happening when people were home. Most happen when no one is home. It raised alarm because eventually they were going to go into a home where someone did not go out and where they're putting their kids into bed."
Abbott said it was interesting that Fleming was hesitant about where he lived. Abbott said while executing the search warrant of Fleming's house, they found some pants and shoes that they believe were worn on Nov. 6.
Abbott then went through a series of photographs of Fleming's house. Abbott pointed out several items in each picture. Abbott pointed out in one picture a class ring from Hudson High School and ear rings. In another picture, Abbott pointed out an engraved pocket watch belonging to another man.
Abbott said he also got a search warrant for Fleming's DNA. Abbott said this is done with a swab that is put in a person's mouth, and then they are air dried.?