Prosecution rests case against Columbia man accused of murder

5 years 6 months 4 weeks ago Wednesday, January 14 2015 Jan 14, 2015 Wednesday, January 14, 2015 2:53:00 PM CST January 14, 2015 in News
By: KOMU 8 Digital Staff

COLUMBIA - Prosecutors continued to call witnesses Wednesday as the trial against a Columbia man accused of hiring a hit man to kill his partner entered day three 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 prosecution's first witness Wednesday was Chris Hente who is a service technician for ADT Security. Hente testified on March 7, 2013 Daniels called the company because of a malfunctioning alarm. When he arrived at the Daniels home, Hente testified Daniels' demeanor was emotional. Hente said in order for him to help Daniels, he would need to "calm down." Hente found the home's alarm system had a wire that had physically removed. Hente said it would be "extremely unlikely" for the wire to fall out on its own. On cross examination, the defense asked how old the wiring was but didn't elaborate.

The prosecution's second witness was another ADT service technician. Christopher Mills testified there was trouble with the doors at the home and there was a battery removed from the door alarm. 

Columbia Police Detective Joseph Jackson began testifying later Wednesday morning about the relationship between Thompson and Casey Lewis, who police suspect is the person Thompson is accused of hiring to kill Daniels. Jackson also testified he listened to all of Thompson's jail calls and there was a vague inference to Casey Lewis when Thompson was talking to his sister. The phone call played in court.

Just prior lunch Wednesday, Rachel Rose, the ex-girlfriend of Thompson's friend Christopher Hurt testified during cross examination by the defense that she thought Thompson was only Daniels' caretaker and didn't know there was a romantic relationship between the two. Rose told prosecutors upon their questioning that she had dinner with Hurt, Thompson and a friend of Thompson's that she didn't know who she now describes as matching the description of Casey Lewis. Lewis is the man police suspect Thompson paid to kill Daniels.

Later in the afternoon, prosecutors called their final witness, Columbia Police Detective Bryan Liebhart to the stand. Liebhart is the lead detective in the case. Prosecutors played a video of Liebhart interrogating Thompson April14, 2013, just three days after the alleged murder. The video showed that 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 rested their case around 3:30 p.m. The defense was scheduled to start calling witnesses at 8:30 Thursday morning.

Prosecutors spent all day Tuesday calling more than a dozen 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.

Late Tuesday, Glenn Anderson, a longtime friend of Thompson's took the stand. He originally provided an alibi for Thompson before reversing his testimony. He's now charged with hindering the prosecution of a felony and could possibly face up to four years in prison.

Anderson told the prosecution Thompson would joke about Daniels' death including saying he would get a gangster to shoot him. However, the defense countered that, saying this is the first time anyone heard that information. The defense said Anderson was only saying this for his own benefit; Anderson admitted in court he had selective memory.

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 in court Tuesday courtesy of the Columbia Daily Tribune.

[Editor's note: This story is being continually updated with the latest information from court.]

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