Prosecutors call dozens of witnesses in day two of murder trial
COLUMBIA - Prosecutors continued calling witnesses Tuesday in day two of the trial against a Columbia man accused of first degree murder. James Thompson is accused in the murder of Brian Daniels. Police said he hired a hit man to kill his partner, Brian Daniels.
Several witnesses took the witness stand at the end of Tuesday. Glen Anderson, a longtime friend of Thompson's, 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 four years in prison. Tuesday, 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.
Columbia Police responded to a call on April 10, 2013 at 2416 Cimarron Drive where they found Brian Daniels dead. In an interview with KOMU 8 News on April 11, Thompson and his mother, Jacqueline Miller, said they found Daniels dead after returning to the house for the first time in 24 hours. Daniels had three gun shot wounds in his body when police arrived to the scene. In the interview with KOMU 8 News, Thompson said he had keys to the house and claimed to live with Daniels as his partner. That video interview played for the jury in court Tuesday.
The first witness Tuesday was the medical examiner who discussed the cause of Brian Daniels' death. Dr. Carl Stacy testified a gunshot wound to the head killed Daniels. He testified he could not determine the time of Daniels' death.
Columbia Police Detective Steve McCormack took the stand late Tuesday morning and said the house that was the scene of the crime was "cluttered, disorganized and had a strong smell inside of the residence." Detective McCormack said he did not find items that were James Thompson's and he did not find gun shell casings in the house.
Detective Robert Dochler testified Brian Daniels' house was disorganized. He said he could not tell if it was burglarized or ransacked.
Later Tuesday morning, the prosecution called former KOMU 8 reporter Lauren Bale to the stand. Bale interviewed Thompson before he was charged with murder.
The court was in recess for lunch and prosecutors resumed calling witnesses afterward.
Since they resumed after lunch, prosecutors called a Commerce Bank employee to the stand. The employee testified Brian Daniels needed help managing his balances. The employee testified she helped Daniels keep track of his finances. The prosecution is trying to prove Daniels was having a difficult time he managed his money. The witness testified Daniels rarely wrote checks. One of those checks, she testified was made out to the suspect, James Thompson.
The next witness was Brian Daniels' mail carrier who testified she brought Daniels his mail every day and visited with him for a few minutes per day. She testified she would go inside the Daniels home on a regular basis to help with packages and described the home as "messy." The mail carrier testified she did not know James Thompson. Upon cross-examination, the defense questioned the mail carrier ability to know whether anyone was in the house with Daniels when she visited him.
Later Tuesday afternoon, Columbia Police Detective Patrick Corcoran took the stand. He was the third detective from the department to testify Tuesday. The detective was the third person at the crime scene and testified the scene looked "more cluttered" than times he had been there in the past. He assisted with securing the scene April 11 and said he saw a white Chevrolet Impala driving in the area of the Daniels home which he said was "suspicious." Corcoran said the license plates on the vehicle came back as registered to EAN Holdings. The detective testified he couldn't identify who was in vehicle but only that he saw it in the area several times.
Corcoran detective testified that prior to the date of the alleged crime, Daniels told him he had "missing or stolen items" from his home. The items Daniels told the detective were stolen were a golden beetle artifact, a room stone with an inscription on it and a golden tantric wand. Daniels told the detective he believed he knew who stole it from him and that Thompson was the person who stole it. The detective said Daniels appeared to be impaired by some sort of narcotics when the detective was inquiring about the stolen items. That incident led police to question Thompson when the detective said Thompson told him he was a caretaker for Daniels. The conversation, the detective said then turned to Thompson saying Daniels was a habitual LSD abuser. Thompson told the detective that when Daniels was high he would believe he was performing Egyptian magic. The detective said to the court he felt there was no reason to arrest Thompson for the thefts.
Afterward, prosecutors began questioning the owner of Tiger Pawn, Dan Trim. Trim told prosecutors James Thompson brought him some valuable gold pieces worth thousands of dollars. On the stand, Trim said the items that stood out the most were similar to the ones Daniels told the detective were missing.
Monday, Jury selection began around 9 a.m. with attorneys questioning 84 potential jurors.
The trial started at 3 p.m. with opening statements from prosecutors which ended before 4 p.m. Defense attorneys were expected to begin shortly after.
Prosecutors called their first and second witnesses to the stand just after 4 p.m. A CPD officer, Kyle DeOrnellas, who responded to a call from Daniels' home on April 10 was called to the stand. The CPD officer said when he arrived to Daniels' house it was in a disarray.
Detective Bryan Liebhart was the final witness for the day, Monday. He explained to the court that Thompson told him where Daniels kept his will. Police found the will and revealed the beneficiary of the will is Thompson. The defense claims Thompson wanted to get the money to help pay for Daniels' funeral costs.
Judge Christine Carpenter is hearing the case. The trial is expected to go on all week.
[Editor's note: This story is being continually updated with the latest information available.]