Someone in high places assisting accused killer
August 22, 2002
The man accused of beating a friend to death in El Jebel last year is receiving help from an anonymous sympathizer apparently from within the criminal justice system.
Russell Thompson disclosed in court yesterday that someone secretly provided him with photos that he claimed were being withheld by the district attorney’s office.
The photos were slipped through a screen door last weekend at Thompson’s sister’s house in Colorado Springs, he said. Thompson is out on bail while awaiting trial on a second-degree murder charge. He is living with his sister’s family.
He told Eagle District Judge Richard Hart that a packet appeared on his sister’s doorstep last weekend with two photos showing where Timothy “Chico” Destromp was found in a pool of blood in his El Jebel apartment on Feb. 11, 2001.
The packet was addressed to Thompson and inside a note said “Don’t Give Up!!!” according to copies provided to the judge.
Thompson, who is representing himself after firing his public defender, has alleged for months that the district attorney’s office has failed to give him all the evidence it has collected in his case. Law enforcement officials claim the missing evidence is a figment of Thompson’s imagination.
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But the mystery packet convinced Thompson of skullduggery in the prosecutor’s office. He said he had been provided with only one photo showing how Destromp was located and what was around him when he was discovered by police. Thompson has maintained that any worthwhile investigation should have included additional photos from different angles.
He said his forensic expert needs more evidence from the investigation to piece together his own theory of what happened and to rebut the district attorney’s case.
Yesterday’s revelation about the mystery packet probably had more philosophical significance than practical bearing on the case.
Deputy District Attorney Brenda Parks insisted that Thompson has been given every photograph that her office holds as evidence. If Thompson doesn’t have some of the photos, her office isn’t responsible, she said.
Judge Hart wasn’t convinced that the packet showed the DA is withholding anything. He ordered Thompson to work with the DA and the sheriff’s office to make sure he possessed all evidence.
However, the packet suggests that Thompson is convincing someone there is a reasonable doubt about his guilt – someone affiliated with the criminal justice system.
The photographs that were provided to him are not accessible by the general public. Copies of the discovery material – evidence that the prosecutor intends to use at trial – are only accessible by sheriff’s office personnel, district attorney’s office personnel and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation office in Montrose.
Thompson indicated in court that he did not know who provided the photographs.
The trial is currently scheduled to be held Sept. 16-20. However, Thompson and Parks have been wrangling for months over claims that evidence hasn’t been provided. Each of them accused the other of lying yesterday during the hearing. Hart seemed exasperated.
“Maybe we’re closer to making sense out of this thing – maybe we aren’t,” he concluded.
Thompson is accused of beating Destromp to death with his hands. The two co-workers drank vodka all afternoon on a Saturday and at one point got into an argument over Destromp’s girlfriend.
Police claim the argument turned into a fight and that Thompson hit Destromp repeatedly in the face – enough times to cause his death. Thompson initially confessed to the beating.
He later recanted and said he was so drunk that he didn’t know what happened. He said he passed out and found Destromp near death when he woke up. He immediately ran to a neighboring house and called 911 and, in his drunken state, assumed he was responsible.
Thompson said evidence he has unearthed since firing the public defender has convinced him someone else is responsible for Destromp’s death.
[Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]