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Episode 114: Amber Guyger Cop Shooting Case

  Amber Guyger, 31, was charged with the murder of 26-year-old Botham Jean, a Dallas accountant and native of St. Lucia. On the stand, she breaks down in tears several times as she gives her version of what happened on Sept. 6, 2018.
Her attorneys argue that Guyger fired in self-defense after mistaking Jean for a burglar and contend the shooting was a tragic mistake. They say Guyger returned home exhausted after a long shift, got off the elevator on the wrong floor of her apartment complex, and went to the wrong apartment. The door was open and the apartment was dark. When the shadowy person inside began approaching her at a “fast-paced” walk, she said she called out, “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” then fired her gun.
Witness Joshua Brown, 28, said he watched a sobbing Guyger pace back and forth in front of Jean’s door while on the phone, telling the person on the other end of the call that she had mistaken the apartment for her own. Guyger was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Joshua Brown was found shot to death just days after giving testimony in the case.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 113: FSU Law Professor Murder

FSU law professor Dan Markel was shot and killed in his car outside his home in Tallahassee on July 19, 2014. Markel had been involved in a bitter dispute with his ex-wife Wendi Adelson, also a law professor at FSU, about the custody of their two sons. Suspicion fell on Wendi’s brother Charlie Adelson, a playboy  dentist who had a lot of friends on the shady side of the law. Three of these friends–Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Katie Magbanua, Katie’s ex-boyfriend Sigfredo Garcia, and henchman Luis Rivera–were tried for involvement in the murder. Rivera turned State’s Evidence and confessed to the trio’s role in the crime. Garcia was found guilty of first-degree murder, but Magbanua’s case was declared a mistrial.
This episode includes audio of Wendi Adelson, who testified under a grant of immunity that she was not involved in the plot to kill her ex-husband. Her testimony is followed by that of her ex-boyfriend Jeff Lacasse, who said that Wendi told him that Charlie was looking into hiring a hit man to kill Dan.

Listen to the episode here

Episode 112: Manson follower Brooks Poston police interview

Brooks Poston was a member of the Manson family who testified for the prosecution during the Tate/Labianca murder trial. This recording was made on 3 October 1969, after Manson’s arrest for the Tate/LaBianca murders, when Poston was interviewed by the Inyo County police. As Poston explains, he was a devout follower who believed in Manson’s magic powers. When he was first introduced to Manson, at Dennis Wilson’s Sunset Boulevard home, Charlie walked up to Poston and kissed his feet. Poston, who’d just taken some LSD, was deeply affected by the meeting. For a while, he believed Manson was Jesus Chris, and took his teachings literally.
In his interview, Poston describes life with the Manson family at the Spahn ranch, and the family’s beliefs, including the idea of Helter Skelter. After the trial, he formed a band called Desert Sun, which recorded two of Manson’s songs.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 111: Letalvis Cobbins Confession

   On Saturday, January 6, 2007, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, went out on a date for dinner a restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee. On the way home, when they pulled off the road to kiss, they were hijacked, bound and blindfolded by three males, and driven to a rundown rental house.
When the couple didn’t arrive home, the police were called and a search began. On Monday, Channon’s car was found two blocks away from the rental house. On Tuesday January 9, Christopher Newsom’s body was found dumped by a railroad track. He had been raped, short, and his body partially burned. When police entered the rental house, they found Channon Christian’s body in a trash can in the kitchen. She’d been raped, beaten, choked, and left to suffocate.
The perpetrators were Eric D. Boyd, Letalvis D. Cobbins, his brother Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas, and Vanessa Coleman. All had multiple prior felony convictions, and none of them cooperated with prosecutors, with each claiming their own innocence. After six years of legal wrangling, trial, Davidson was convicted and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Cobbins was convicted and sentenced to life without parole. Thomas got 35 years, and Eric Boyd got 18 years. Vanessa Coleman, Cobbins’s girlfriend, got a sentence of 35 years for facilitating the crimes.
Since the victims were white and middle class, and the defendants poor and black, some accused the national media of reverse discrimination by failing to give the case the same attention paid to white-on-black hate crimes. However, no evidence demonstrated the race of the victims was a motivation in their killing.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 110: Brooke Skylar Richardson Trial Testimony

When Brooke Skylar Richardson, 18, discovered she was pregnant, she was afraid to tell either her parents, who would have been shocked and disappointed, or her boyfriend Brandon Saylor,

Richardson is charged with aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse for the incident that occurred in May 2017.

Brandon Saylor, Richardson’s boyfriend in the winter and spring of 2017. The 21-year-old said he did not know Richardson was pregnant when they went to prom in May 2017. He only learned about it about on television when the remains were recovered.

In the hours after the birth, well before he or anyone knew there was a birth, she texted Saylor: “Ill tell you all about it later but last night was like the worst ever and I didn’t go to sleep till 5:30 but I feel soooooo much better this morning I’m happy.”

The prosecution also showed a series of text messages between Richardson and her mother just before and after the baby was born, talking about getting birth control and weight loss. The jury was again shown a photo of Richardson working out that the gym on the night after giving birth in which she was tracking her weight loss.

Skylar was found not guilty of aggravated murder and involuntary manslaughter, but will spend three years on probation for “gross abuse of a corpse.” This episode contains excerpts from the trial: Brandon Saylor on direct, and Detective Christopher Wong (cellphone expert) on direct, reading texts between Skylar and her mom, Kim Richardson.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 109: Pensacola CSI Love Triangle Murder

Pensacola private investigator and former police officer Taylor Wright, 33, was last seen on September 7, 2017. Taylor had been going through a difficult divorce and had taken money that the court had ordered her to pay to her ex-husband, Jeff, who’d been given custody of their young son, Drake. When she went missing, gun-loving Taylor had been living with a woman, P.E. teacher Cassandra Waller, but this couple, too, were at odds.
Cassandra had just discovered that Taylor was cheating on her with Ashley McArthur, 42, a former crime scene technician for the Sheriff’s Office. Taylor had asked Ashley to keep $34,000 in her safety deposit box so she wouldn’t have to pay it to Jeff. Now, she was having problems getting the money back from Ashley.

Investigators learned that Ashley, who was married, had many lovers, including Brandon Beatty, owner of Stix billiard hall, and Audrey Warner, who tended bar there. Her phone and bank records showed that on August 16, 2017, a cashier’s check for $34,000 had been deposited into her account and had since been spent. Taylor’s body was discovered on October 19 buried under concrete and potting soil on a property neighboring Ashley’s aunt’s horse farm in north Escambia County. The jury found Ashley McArthur guilty of first-degree premeditated murder with a firearm. 

This  episode contains excerpts from Jeff Wright on direct, Cassandra Waller on direct and cross, Audrey Warner on direct and cross, and Zachary McArthur on direct.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 108: Jerrod Murray Confession

In December 2012, Jerrod Murray, 18, a freshman at East Central University, Oklahoma, asked fellow student Generro Sanchez, also 18, for ride to Wal-Mart in exchange for $20. Once inside the vehicle, Murray pulled out a gun and forced Sanchez to drive five miles north of Asher, Murray’s hometown. While driving, Sanchez began begging Murray to spare his life. Murray shot him twice in the head, and the vehicle crashed into a tree. Murray pulled Sanchez out, shot him again in the head, then pushed the body into a ditch and covered it with leaves and sticks.

Murray was arrested near the scene, and taken in for questioning by Pottawatomie County Under-sheriff J.T. Palmer. Murray, speaking clearly and without hesitation, immediately confesses to the crime, telling Palmer that, “if pressed,” he would say he did it “to demonstrate the power of my will.” He states that he had thought about killing someone for a long time because he wanted to know what it felt like, and chose Sanchez because he did not seem to have many friends, and would not be missed. Murray speaks in a flat tone without emotion, and every time he speaks, addresses Palmer politely as “sir.” When asked if he feels remorse, he replies, “Well, I am glad I got caught by someone with your high rank, but no, I don’t feel any remorse for what I did.”

Evan Jolliff, a student who lived in Murray’s freshman dorm, said Jerrod was very eccentric. He wore a dark suit, carried a cane, and never went to class. “He just didn’t seem right,” said Joliff.

Murray was later evaluated by multiple mental health professionals, and all but one agreed he displayed serious signs of psychotic behavior and that, if released, he posed a significant threat to public safety. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 107: Scott Nelson Takes the Stand

At 11.30am on Sept. 27, 2017, housekeeper and nanny Jennifer Fulford received a FedEx package from the “Bacon of the Month Club” at the home of her employer in Winter Park, Florida, Reid Berman. Shortly after that, she was supposed to pick up Reid Berman’s son Oliver from school. She didn’t show up. Her body was later found in a vacant field close to the Apopka-Vineland Road in southwest Orange County. Her head had been wrapped in duct tape, and she’d been stabbed her seven times.

The perpetrator of the crime was an unrepentant 55-year-old man named Scott Nelson. As he testifies, Scott Nelson, 55, had a tough life. His mother was schizophrenic, his father abusive. He tried to go straight but failed, got into drugs and turned to crime to feed his habit. He served 25 years in federal prison for six felonies. When released to the streets of Orlando, Florida in 2010, he got a lucky break. A good Samaritan gave him a job in a paint store, and let him live in an apartment above his garage. But his luck ran out when his probation officer turned up at his job, which led to him getting fired and losing his home. For Scott Nelson, this was the last straw in a life of indignities. He was through. As he said on the stand, “Once you kick a dog enough times, they bite back.”

“I suffered to make my way up the mountain, and this maniac comes in and cuts it out from underneath me. What am I going to do? Get another job and let him do it again? No. We are going fight back,” Nelson says. He testifies that he was planning to shoot his probation officer, but instead, he decided to target the ritzy home of Reid Berman because he was homeless and hungry. He went to Walmart and bought duct tape and zip ties (“never leave home without them,” he advises the jury). When Ms. Fulford opened the door of the Berman home, he pushed his way inside with a knife. After binding Fulford with zip ties and wrapping her in a comforter, he explains that he put her in the trunk of her own car and drove her to an ATM, where he withdrew $300 from her bank account. He describes her death as “collateral damage.”

In his testimony, Nelson blames the federal government and his probation officer for the crime, saying they “lit a firecracker, lit a bomb” in his troubled soul. “Jennifer Fulford would be alive today” if it were not for them, he claims. For their part, prosecutors argued Nelson was a “narcissist” who wanted an opportunity to “rail against the world,” and so he murdered Fulford with a plan to get caught. Despite his request for the death penalty, Nelson was sentenced to life without parole.

Listen to the episode here.

Episode 106: Deposition of “The Apostle”

This episode contains highlights from the 2015 deposition of David E. “The Apostle” Taylor, of J.M.M.I Ministries in St. Louis, Missouri. Taylor is being questioned by attorney Colleen Ronayne as part of a divorce suit filed by Ricky Frazier, the ex-husband of one of Taylor’s “volunteers” Deborah Frazier, who has donated over a million dollars to the ministry.

Ronayne questions Taylor about his claims to have been visited personally by Jesus, and to have cured people of blindness and AIDS. She also asks about his cars (a BMW, Mercedes, Bentley, and a Range Rover), and his clothing bills ($6,000 at Louis Vuitton, $3,500 at Versace, $1,700 at Monsieur Clothing, and other designer items totaling $30,000 over a two-year period). It’s sometimes painful to listen to Taylor’s fumbling, inarticulate responses. Visibly nervous and biting his bottom lip, Taylor makes pitiful excuses for his frivolous purchases (he has to buy his belts at high-end stores because “they have a better TV appearance”). Interestingly, like Pastor Timothy Omotoso (whose case was featured in Episode 74), Taylor has a particular fondness for garish military jackets.

He claims to know almost nothing about his own finances, repeatedly telling Ronanye that she should ask Michelle Brannon, his fellow board member. He claims not to know his own office address, or the purpose of a $2.8 million dollar property in St. Louis that is listed as an asset on J.M.M.I.’s tax forms, or even the identity of one of his dependents. Every time he’s trapped in a contradiction or a lie, his response is the same: “ask Michelle.”

Listen to the episode here.

 

Episode 105: Timothy Jones Jr. Police Confession

This child murder took place on August 28, 2014 in Lexington, SC, and this time, there were multiple victims. When interviewed by FBI agent David Mackey and Lexington County sheriff’s Detective Adam Creech, Jones, a divorced dad who had sole custody of the kids, explained that his oldest child, 6-year-old Nahtahn, deliberately blew out four electrical outlets in the home. Jones, 37, said he became angry and “PTd his ass,” meaning that he made Nahtahn do physical exercises until he collapsed and died. When Jones realized what he’d done, he said “the voices started” in his head, telling him the other children were against him, and he had to kill them, too.

Jones describes how he killed daughter Merah, 8, and Elias, 7, by strangling them with his hands, then killed son Gabriel, 2, and daughter Elaine, 1, by choking them with a belt.“I was just running on fear, and I wasn’t thinking. I started following those voices in my head,” Jones says. “Logic went out the window.” He told the officers that he’s often felt himself to be mentally ill, though has never been diagnosed by a doctor. Jones speaks in a flat voice, sometimes normally, and sometimes in a high-pitched, tearful tone, beginning to wail as he gets to the end of the confession. The jury clearly felt his “crazy” presentation to be feigned, as they found him guilty of five counts of first degree murder. Jones has yet to be sentenced, but may face the death penalty.

Listen to the episode here.