Prosecutors present taped confession during capital murder trial
by Rachael Brown
rbrown@annistonstar.com
Jun 26, 2013 | 11294 views |  0 comments | 234 234 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Witness John Robinson, the owner of a car detailing service used by Nicholas Smith, listens to a question from an attorney during Smith's capital murder trial on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Witness John Robinson, the owner of a car detailing service used by Nicholas Smith, listens to a question from an attorney during Smith's capital murder trial on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
slideshow
Nicholas Smith consults with an attorney during his capital murder trial in the death of Kevin Thompson on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Nicholas Smith consults with an attorney during his capital murder trial in the death of Kevin Thompson on Wednesday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
slideshow
During the second day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Nicholas Smith, jurors watched a video of the 24-year-old telling police he slit third-grade teacher Kevin Thompson’s throat in April 2011.

Clint Parris, an investigator with the Anniston Police Department, told the courtroom he interviewed Smith on April 27, 2011 – seven days after the Wellborn Elementary School teacher was kidnapped, robbed and killed.

Smith was discovered by police at the Atlanta airport on April 22 and brought back to Calhoun County five days later for questioning.

During the taped interview conducted by Parris and Jacksonville police investigator Joseph Martin, Smith changed his story several times.

Initially Smith told investigators he had no idea what was going on when Thompson was kidnapped and that he was dropped off at a friend’s home before the killing took place. After several questions from Parris and the investigator repeating “you’re still leaving some things out,” Smith provided police with more details of the crime.

‘You have no idea what it’s like’

Smith, in the videoed interview, said he got a call around 10:30 p.m. from Tyrone Thompson – a family friend of Kevin’s, but no relation. Smith, Tyrone Thompson and another man whom Smith knew as “Wayne,” later identified as Jovon Gaston, went to Jacksonville. The three men went to Kevin Thompson’s Jackson Trace apartment, kidnapped the 29-year-old teacher and stole his Honda Civic.

According to Smith’s account in the video, the men drove Thompson to several ATMs in Jacksonville and Anniston while holding him at gunpoint. A branch manager at the Alabama Teacher’s Credit Union testified Wednesday that $400 was withdrawn at the ATMs. They later drove to Tyrone Thompson’s home, drank a few beers and discussed what to do with Kevin Thompson, who was trapped in the trunk of his car, Smith tells his interviewers in the video.

Smith said they drove Thompson’s car to Smith’s friend Jessica Foster’s house on Rocky Hollow Road in Anniston, wrapped Thompson in duct tape and put him in the back seat of Smith’s black Ford Explorer.

Smith told investigators Thompson had duct tape on his eyes while Tyrone drove the four men toward Piedmont. According to Smith, Tyrone parked the vehicle on a dark, secluded stretch of U.S. 278 and the men got out of the car.

“Tyrone gave me the knife and said ‘cut his throat,’” Smith said in the video.

Smith said he complied, and said Thompson yelled “Help! Help! I’m dying!”

Gaston stabbed Thompson several times in the chest until he stopped moving, according to Smith’s videotaped account, then the men left Thompson’s body in a ditch.

Smith became emotional during the taped interview, crying to police as he said “You have no idea what it’s like. Every time I close my eyes I can see it.”

Other accounts

Whitney Ledlow, a friend of Smith’s, told the courtroom that when she saw Smith the day after the murder he acted like nothing had happened. Ledlow and Smith’s friend Jessica Foster both testified to knowing Smith and Tyrone Thompson and believing they were brothers.

According to testimony from Ledlow and Foster, Smith and the two women smoked marijuana together and arranged for Smith’s car to be detailed. Ledlow said she saw blood drops in Smith’s car and asked “What did you do, kill somebody?”

Ledlow, Smith and Foster took valuables from Thompson’s Honda Civic, still parked at Foster’s home, and arranged for two men to disassemble the vehicle.

Ledlow said she found a ring inside the car that she sold to AAA Pawn Shop in Anniston for $200. The ring – later collected as evidence by Anniston police – had belonged to Thompson’s grandfather.

The three drove to Carrollton, Ga., on April 21 and Smith told the women what had happened the night before, they told the court.

“He was so calm. I didn’t believe what he was telling me,” Ledlow said.

Both women said Smith shot Thompson – but a medical examiner’s testimony Tuesday made no mention of bullet wounds.

Foster began to cry during her testimony when prosecutors asked why she was in the courtroom Wednesday morning.

“It’s the right thing to do. It’s been bothering me since it happened. I haven’t been able to sleep,” Foster said.

Foster and Ledlow were both indicted May 13, 2011, on charges of hindering prosecution in the case.

A jury listened to testimony from 14 witnesses on the second day of the capital murder trial. Testimony will continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.

Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.

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