District Attorney retriesEl Jebel murder suspect | VailDaily.com

District Attorney retriesEl Jebel murder suspect

EAGLE – The Eagle County District Attorney’s Office is trying to gut the evidence a man can use in his defense against a charge that he beat a friend to death in El Jebel nearly four years ago.Deputy District Attorney Arly Miner is trying to have much of the evidence Russell K. Thompson used in his defense in his first trial in the beating case declared inadmissible for his second trial.Thompson was charged and tried for second-degree murder for the brutal beating of Timothy “Chico” Destromp in an El Jebel apartment on Feb. 10, 2001. A jury found him guilty of manslaughter rather than murder.Thompson appealed the conviction on grounds that prosecutors didn’t disclose all the evidence that was going to be used in the trial, so he couldn’t prepare an adequate defense. Eagle County District Judge Richard Hart tossed out the conviction and ordered a new trial for manslaughter.As that new trial nears, Miner is striking at the heart of Thompson’s defense to try to prevent him from presenting some of his most compelling evidence to a jury.In the first trial in September 2002, the prosecutor then handling the case showed the jury a videotape that was taken by officers with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and Eagle County at Destromp’s apartment. As the camera pans over footprints in fresh snow outside the apartment, a voice off camera asks if someone else could have been involved besides Thompson. The person notes that the prints of boots he calls “waffle stompers” lead between apartments. Thompson was wearing tennis shoes.Miner has disclosed she will only introduce the video portion of that tape as evidence in the second trial. The jury won’t hear the voice raising questions about broader involvement.Thompson claimed the comments are vital to his defense. He alleges that he was so drunk that he passed out in Destromp’s apartment. While he was out, he claimed Destromp got in a fight with someone in the apartment above. A trail of blood allegedly leads down to Destromp’s apartment, where Thompson theorizes the fight resumed.Miner said she won’t introduce the audio part of that tape in the second trial because the Eagle County deputy sheriffs and CBI officers allegedly cannot identify the voice of the person raising questions – even though it was a tape created by those agencies.Thompson, who is representing himself, argued that the investigators, who are trying to help convict him, won’t identify the voice because they want to cover their tracks after a shoddy investigation.”That’s why I’m here today, because they ignored a lot of things,” Thompson said.Hart ruled that the videotape could be shown to the jury without the audio. Without an identity of the voice, the comments are just hearsay, the judge said.Other evidence Miner is trying to have tossed included details of the drinking. Miner wants Thompson barred from telling the jury how drunk he and Destromp were while partying in the El Jebel apartment. The men were drinking beer and vodka. Miner said Thompson should be allowed to describe the drinking, but not that he had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.275. That’s more than three times the amount considered for drunken driving. Destromp had a BAC of 0.416, a level that would be fatal to many people.Thompson said his alcohol level is vital to his case because he is trying to show he was confused about what happened when he woke up in Destromp’s apartment on a Saturday night and found his friend in a pool of blood. Thompson ran to a neighboring house, called police and confessed several times to Destromp’s beating.”I was so hammered drunk. I woke up in jail the next morning and said ‘I did what?'” he said.Hart ruled Thompson can talk about the alcohol consumption but cannot pose it as a defense. Vail, Colorado

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