Murder investigators wondered if others suspects were involved
September 20, 2002
A jury heard investigators acknowledge on a videotape Thursday that they might have to consider more than one suspect in the beating death of Timothy Destromp.
The revelation came during a day in which both the prosecution and defense made laborious attempts to bolster their cases and sway the jury.
Both sides appeared to raise important points, but the evidence presented lacked the dramatic flair of a videotaped confession of Russell Thompson that was played the prior two days. Thompson is facing a charge of second-degree murder for the fatal beating of Destromp in an El Jebel apartment on Feb. 10, 2001.
Both sides centered their efforts on a videotape of the crime scene that was presented by Deputy District Attorney Brenda Parks. The video showed blood smeared and splattered in a living room, bathroom, bedroom and kitchen of Destromp’s tiny apartment.
The kitchen scene was particularly dramatic. Blood was smeared on a white kitchen counter and on a white stove. The camera eventually focused on the body of Destromp, naked from the waist up and resting on the floor in pools of blood. He was wearing jeans and died with his boots on.
Kevin Humphreys, the agent in charge of the crime scene for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, said his analysis of bloodstain patterns indicated that Destromp wandered from the bathroom into the bedroom, rolled across the bed, bounced off a wall, stumbled back into the kitchen and collapsed.
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In a lengthy description of DNA and its significance, Humphreys testified that tests produced results only from Destromp and Thompson in the apartment.
But the tape used by Parks to try to draw the noose around Thompson also provided the defendant with fuel for his case. Thompson replayed parts that Parks glossed over and made sure the jury heard the dialogue between investigators off-camera.
One investigator can be heard noting the presence of “waffle-stomper” footprints outside of Destromp’s apartment and leading to stairs that lead to an upstairs dwelling in the A-frame building. Those prints weren’t attributed to Thompson.
Under questioning by Thompson, former Eagle County Deputy Sheriff Scott Hunter acknowledged that an investigator says on the tape, “I can’t believe this guy’s the only suspect.”
“Yes, it did,” responded Thompson in obvious glee.
Investigators also discussed the possibility on videotape that the fight that proved fatal to Destromp started in the second-story apartment.
Thompson has recanted his confessions and claims he was passed out from drinking too much when Destromp got into a fight with an unknown person or persons.
Humphreys tried to explain away the comments on the videotape. Investigators typically look into any and all possibilities early in a case, he said.
Much of the day was spent with Parks calling witnesses who testified about the alleged thoroughness of the investigation. On cross-examination, Thompson attempted to show their work was incomplete, at best, and incompetent, at worst.
He peppered Humphreys and Hunter with questions about why fingerprints that were found in Destromp’s apartment weren’t tested and why blood on a toolbag in the apartment wasn’t tested.
Hunter said the collection of evidence wasn’t his to direct. Humphreys insisted CBI collected multiple samples of blood and other evidence deemed vital to the case.
Parks said she intends to close her case today and let Thompson start presenting his defense.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]