James Thompson testifies during day four of his murder trial
COLUMBIA - The defense started calling witnesses Thursday as the trial against a Columbia man accused of hiring a hit man to kill his partner entered day four at the Boone County Courthouse. James Thompson is accused of first degree murder in the death of Brian Daniels.
Columbia Police responded to a call on April 10, 2013 at 2416 Cimarron Drive where they found Brian Daniels dead.
The defense's first witness Thursday was Cathy Richards, a Boone County Public Administrator. She said that she estimated Daniels' net worth was nearly $1.1 million.
The next witness was Roger Farley. Farley appraised Daniels' property. He said that the house smelled like oils and incense halfway across the yard. He said there were burn holes in the carpet and ritualistic items all over the house. He said the bathroom sink was busted and the tub was filthy. Farley said that there were burned candles and writing on the walls. He appraised the house for $250,000.
Holly Oswald later took the stand and said she visited Daniels' home about a year before Daniels died and the home was spotless.
Later, the defendant, James Thompson took the stand. The defense asked him about his life and Thompson described how he has lived in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri. Thompson said he attended Moberly High School.
The defense then asked about Thompson's relationship with various people. Thompson said he went to high school with Christopher Hurt, who is also charged in connection with the case, but they did not become close until after high school. Thompson said that he met Rachel Rose because she is Christopher Hurt's ex-girlfriend. Thompson said he has known Rose for about a year to a year-and-a-half and he considers her a friend.
Thompson later described his relationship with Casey Lewis, the man he is accused of hiring to kill Daniels. Thompson said he met Lewis in Oklahoma and they have been friends since they were toddlers. Thompson said their relationship became a bit distant when Thompson moved, but they reconnected when Thompson was a freshman in college.
The defense later asked Thompson about his relationship with Daniels. Thompson said he met Daniels through Christopher Hurt. Thompson said he first met Daniels when he went to a singles party at Daniels' home. Attorneys asked Thompson what he first thought about Daniels. Thompson said Daniels had an "interesting" appearance and demeanor. He also said Daniels was intelligent. Thompson said he left the party early. Thompson said he met Daniels a few other times and they eventually ended up exchanging phone numbers. Thompson said one day Daniels called him to ask him to help fix his thermostat. Thompson said when he got there, there wasn't actually anything wrong with the thermostat.
Thompson said after that, they started seeing each other. Thompson said he hung out with Daniels a lot at The Blue Note in Columbia and they did more together during the evenings than in the day. Thompson went on to describe Daniels' house. Thompson said Daniels had trouble getting and keeping housekeepers because his house was messy. Thompson said Daniels did not have guns in his house, but he did have Egyptian swords and ancient daggers.
At some point the attorneys questioned Thompson about the type of relationship he had with Daniels and Thompson said he and Daniels were intimate and that Daniels would like watching Thompson have sex with other people during group encounters. Thompson testified one night Thompson was asleep and Daniels tried to have sex with him anyway. Thompson testified the two were partners and lovers.
Thompson said that after that, they stopped having relations, but they reacquainted after awhile. Thompson said Daniels was having problems with his motion detectors and alarms throughout the house and Thompson tried to fix them.
On March 1, 2013 at 3:30 a.m. Thompson went to Daniels house to "see how he was doing." He used a key to get inside and walked up to his bedroom up to the stairs but did not attempt to turn on any lights. When asked why, Thompson said "candles were burning," but in his previous statement he said the house was so dark he had to use his cell phone light to see. Thompson said there was an altercation and Daniels stabbed Thompson, although Daniels was the one with a gash on his head. Thompson said he picked up a chair to defend himself when Daniels tried to stab him.
When asked about his 911 call after Daniels died, Thompson stated "he has holes in him, holes everywhere." The prosecution asked if he just made up "holes" because he originally stated he only saw one gunshot wound.
The prosecution said there was no audio of Thompson showing emotion when talking about Daniels and that he did not cry but was chuckling. Thompson said that was untrue.
Prosecutors said when he talked to former KOMU 8 reporter Lauren Bale, he said he was "all cried out," but Thompson said that also was untrue and that he simply doesn't cry in public.
Prosecutors also went after Thompson referring to Daniels as "the body." Earlier, Thompson called himself Daniels' caretaker and lover. Prosecutors suggested he wouldn't call his lover "the body."
Also Thursday, Thompson testified he brought Casey Lewis to Columbia a few days prior to the alleged crime and Lewis would visit Thompson's family and friends with him. While Lewis was in town, he would stay with Thompson at his mobile home. During their visit, Lewis saw that Thompson had a gun and Thompson testified Lewis said, "it was cool." Thompson described the gun in court as a .45 caliber. Thompson testified he gave the gun to Lewis because Lewis said it was a "nice gun." Lewis is the man Thompson is accused of hiring to kill Daniels. The gun police suspect was used in the crime, though, was a smaller caliber gun.
Wednesday, prosecutors rested their case against Thompson after calling dozens of witnesses over two days. Two ADT Security technicians, two Columbia Police detectives and the ex-girlfriend of Christopher Hurt, a friend of Thompson's, all testified.
Prosecutors played video of CPD Detective Brian Liebhart's interrogation of Thompson in which at one point during Liebhart's questioning, Thompson became frustrated and said, "I did not murder him...I did not kill him." Later in the video, Liebhart questioned Thompson's emotional response to Daniels' death and Thompson said, "I care about that man, I love him."
Prosecutors spent Tuesday calling several witnesses, including several police detectives, a bank teller, mail carrier, the medical examiner and a pawn shop owner. To read their in depth testimony click here.
Thompson's trial began Monday with jury selection and the prosecution calling its first witnesses - a Columbia Police officer who responded to Daniels' home the day of the alleged crime and a detective who testified that Thompson told him where Daniels kept his will and that Thompson was listed as Daniels' beneficiary.
Judge Christine Carpenter his hearing the case and expects it will last through Friday.
Thompson is pictured above with his attorneys in court Tuesday courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
[Editor's note: This story is being continually updated with the latest information from court.]