POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A man accused of beating his log cabin roommate to death is now on trial in the Polk County Courthouse.
Christopher Williams, 39, is charged with first-degree murder.
The killing happened last July at the Lakewood Cabins, located off FM 3277 in the Scenic Loop area of Polk County. Authorities say Williams killed his roommate, Andrea Piwko, 25, then called 911 and left the scene before first responders arrived.
Amber McCarthy, Americare EMS emergency medical technician took the stand first. She said she received a call that someone needed help at the Lakewood Cabins. She arrived at the scene June 30 and saw no signs of life or pulse for Piwko. McCarthy said the scene was not secure and looked dangerous causing responders to wait for authorities to arrive at the Cabins.
Prosecutor Kari Allen displayed pictures of the crime scene. The victim was lying unconscious on a bed in a ransacked room.
Lt. Craig Finegan of the Polk County Sheriff's office took the stand next. He responded to a possible homicide at Lakewood Cabins.
He said he interviewed witnesses at the scene and stayed there for about six hours.
Williams' defense attorney, James Keegan, asked if his client was swabbed for DNA. He also asked Finegan if he collected a bloody towel at the scene. Finegan said he did not know whether the blood on the towel belonged to Williams or Piwko.
Pramod Gumpeni, assistant deputy chief medical examiner for the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences, took the stand next. He said he made diagrams of Piwko's injuries when he did the autopsy.
"This scene had multiple abrasions which is where a blunt object scrapes the skin. She has contusions which are like bruises," Gumpeni said.
Allen showed the jury pictures of Piwko's body taken during the autopsy.
Gumpeni said her contusions and abrasions appeared to have occurred close to the time of death.
"What happened to her to cause all these contusions?" Allen asked.
Gumpeni said there were over 40 abrasions and contusions on her face alone.
"The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head," Gumpeni said. "The manner of death was a homicide."
Keegan asked if Piwko could have been saved. The witness said it was possible but he could not tell for sure.
Deputy William Jerry with the Polk County Sheriffs Office took the stand next. He said he detained Williams.
"He was sweaty with a cut on his face," Jerry said.
Jerry said Williams was not wearing shoes at the time of apprehension.
Ryan Clendennen, a Texas Ranger, took the stand next.
"On the 30th of July, Polk County Sheriff's Department requested my assistance at the scene," Clendennen said.
He said it appeared that someone used forced entry to enter the home.
Allen showed pictures of boot prints on the door of the home. Clendennen said it looked like to door had been kicked.
Clendennen said the home was in disarray.
Allen showed a photo of a top drawer from a dresser with a clump of hair on the corner of it.
"Within her hair, there was blood that looked to be all matted up," Clendennen said.
There were also pictures of splattered blood on a piece of paper in evidence. Clendennen said he was not a blood splatter expert, but it appeared to come from someone coughing up blood. Another state's exhibit was a picture of a bloody towel in the freezer.
Clendennen then said he looked outside of the home for more evidence. He said he saw prints that looked like someone had fallen or had been pushed off the porch and had tried to get away.
The trial then recessed for lunch.
After the lunch break, Allen played audio that is a part of evidence. It was an interview of Williams conducted by Clendennen.
In the interview, Williams said he was Piwko's fiancé.
"My girl stopped breathing on me. I was scared. I kept her breathing all night," Williams said.
In the video, Clendennen told Williams his girlfriend was deceased. He began to bawl and cry.
"I loved that girl! I really loved that girl!" Williams said in the video.
Williams went on to say that a woman named Judy had told him Piwko had been messing with a man named Bain. He said he got drunk and tried to kill himself that night.
Williams said Piwko went out and came home drunk.
"I asked her if she had gotten high on meth. She said yeah," Williams said.
The examiner said earlier in the trial that a toxicology report excluded any drug use or even alcohol from Piwko's system.
He said things got physical and out of control that night.
Williams said Piwko fell off the porch three times.
"I didn't push her or nothing," Williams said in the video.
Williams said he asked Piwko if she had sex with Bain and she said yes. He said he felt hurt.
"She slapped me. I slapped her. It went on like that all night. Then I laid her down and tried to make her go to sleep," Williams said.
"Everything wasn't going right. We just moved in this place. As you can see, there was no food in the house. Bills were coming due," Williams said in the recording.
He admitted to having her by her hair and slapping her across her face several times.
Clendennen asked him why he wrapped her up like a burrito.
"She felt cold, so I tried to warm her up," Williams said. "I didn't know if she was dead or alive."
Clendennen told him how several people had told him he ran up the road and snatched her up.
Williams said Piwko kept telling him she was tired of him and sick of this "s---.," He said the hard times they were going through is what caused some of their problems.
Williams decided he would give Clendennen the story again.
"Judy told me my girl wasn't there. She was gone with Ben," he said.
Williams said he and Piwko used to be swingers and bring others into the bed with them.
"It was a together-thing though," Williams said in the video.
Williams told the Texas Ranger he would get hurt every time, so they had agreed to stop.
Williams said a friend came and picked him up in a blue dually because he didn't want to be there when she got back. He said he and his friend ended up going to get Piwko from where she was.
He continued to say they slapped each other around and later went to sleep.
"When I woke up, she was turning purple. I started panicking and saying please get up don't do this to me, baby, I love you," Williams said.
He said he was scared when first responders showed up, so he got rid of the phone he used to call and didn't turn back.
"I know what's going to happen. I'm going to the joint," Williams said.
Keegan began to question Clendennen. He asked about Williams' reference to the Aryan Brotherhood earlier in the interview played as evidence.
Williams had said he was afraid to have a confrontation with the group in a correctional facility.
Clendennen said he did not feel that gang activity had anything to do with the situation at hand.
Charles Bain took the stand next. He was brought up earlier as the man Piwko was having an affair with. He said he met her in the cabins a week or two before she was killed.
He said had met her while visiting with a friend. He said he saw Piwko one last time at the Whirlwind Club in the Scenic loop the day before she died.
Bain said she approached him and asked for a cigarette in the club.
"She looked troubled," Bain said.
"I just noticed what she was wearing. She was wearing a men's work shirt and was in the corner not speaking to anyone," Bain said.
During his testimony, Bain said he asked her what was wrong. She stared down and didn't say much. Bain said Piwko said she had walked to the club, so he offered her a ride home. When they pulled up to the cabin, Piwko said she didn't want to go inside because she did not feel comfortable.
Piwko went into a residence with him. He said there were people there moving things in and out of the home. He said he offered her clothes because she felt uncomfortable with the ones she was wearing.
Bain said hours later, the two had sex.
He then said they went outside and were met by Williams running out of a truck toward them.
"He walked up and asked Andrea to come with him," Bain said. "He came back to me and yelled that he was AB."
He said they were talking outside of the truck. She reluctantly got into the truck. He never saw her again.