Richmond man pleads guilty in wife's slaying, dismemberment, cover-up

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMay 7, 2013 

RICHMOND — A Richmond man pleaded guilty Tuesday to participating in the 2011 death of his wife and the subsequent cover-up of her murder.

Under the terms of a plea deal, Jason Singleton, 36, will serve 30 years in prison for complicity to murder, two counts of tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. He pleaded guilty in the death of Angela Singleton, 25, a dancer at a Lexington strip club.

Angela Singleton's dismembered body was found on Jan. 19, 2011, in a field near Valley View in northwestern Madison County.

Jason Singleton's girlfriend, Christina Tompkins Marcum, 29, is accused of murder, tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. Her trial date, set for May 20, will be rescheduled to another time, prosecutors said.

In a formal statement filed Tuesday with Madison Circuit Court, Jason Singleton accused Marcum of killing Angela Singleton. Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith said the prosecution "doesn't embrace that (statement) as entirely accurate," but she said it was enough to satisfy Jason Singleton's guilty plea to the charge of complicity to murder.

Madison Circuit Judge William Clouse Jr. scheduled sentencing for Aug. 23.

Jason Singleton is already serving a 10-year sentence at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County. He pleaded guilty in November 2011 to unlawful imprisonment and criminal mischief for holding several people hostage in Somerset.

Singleton's plea was the best outcome for him "based on the voluminous amounts of evidence and the risk of what could have happened at trial," said co-defense attorney Jim Baechtold of Richmond. Singleton could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Tuesday's guilty plea is the latest event in a complex case.

In his formal statement, called an allocution, Jason Singleton said conflicts escalated between him and Angela and between Angela and Marcum in January 2011.

On Jan. 16, 2011, Angela Singleton went to the Singletons' home on Forest Hill Drive in Richmond "to retrieve personal property and refused to leave the premises," the statement said. Angela Singleton had taken a large amount of Valium and passed out, but when she awoke, she and Marcum began arguing.

At that point, Jason Singleton said, he went to the back porch to smoke. When he went back inside, "Angela was dead," Jason Singleton said.

"I knew Christina had expressed her desire to injure or kill Angela, and in spite of that, I still left the residence," Singleton said in the statement. "By leaving Angela unprotected in my home, I ignored my duty to protect her and manifested an extreme indifference to the value of human life by leaving Angela Frazier Singleton defenseless with the knowledge that Christina Tompkins Marcum would likely injure or kill Angela Frazier Singleton."

In any case, Jason Singleton said, he checked Angela's pulse and could not revive her.

"Christina Tompkins Marcum begged me to conceal the crime, telling me that I could not let her daughter grow up without a mother," Jason Singleton said in the statement. "I panicked and picked up Angela's body and placed it in the trunk of her car."

Jason Singleton said he then drove the car 21 miles north to the Man O'War Boulevard exit 108 off Interstate 75 in Fayette County and left the car in a parking lot.

However, "Christina was concerned that the body would be discovered with Christina's boot print on her (Angela's) face and suggested that we sever the body parts and dispose of them in different trash Dumpsters across the state," the statement said.

So Jason Singleton said he retrieved Angela's car containing her body and drove it back to his house.

"I removed her body from the trunk, went inside and that's where I committed the crime of abuse of a corpse by severing the body parts," Jason Singleton said in the allocution. He said he committed the crime of tampering with evidence by destroying, concealing and altering the body and other evidence, including flooring, clothing and the implements used to dismember the body.

On Jan. 19, 2011, "I put Angela's body parts in garbage bags and disposed of these garbage bags in a rural area in Madison County," the statement said.

The body parts were discovered near Valley View later that day.

Two days before, on Jan. 17, 2011, Angela Singleton's mother reported her missing to Kentucky State Police. About four hours later, Lexington police found a Nissan Altima, which belonged to Angela, on fire off Interstate 75. State Police detective Brian Reeder said Tuesday that the fire apparently was caused by some mechanical problem and that the fire was not intentionally set.

Three days later, on the morning of Jan. 20, Madison County firefighters received a call from a neighbor about heavy smoke coming from the Singleton house at 110 Forest Hill Drive in Richmond. But the department was told to disregard the call before they could respond.

(Jason Singleton would be indicted on a charge of third-degree arson for intentionally setting two fires in the house, but under the terms of Tuesday's plea agreement, that was amended to a second count of tampering with evidence.)

Later on Jan. 20, state police learned that Somerset police had arrested Jason Singleton after he allegedly stole a vehicle, wrecked it, and held four people hostage for 15 minutes before surrendering to officers.

Somerset police told state police that, after his arrest, Jason Singleton had "made a voluntary, unsolicited statement that he had done a terrible thing that was too terrible to talk about, and the state police were after him," an affidavit said.

Marcum would later tell police that Singleton had told her "that he strangled Angela," according to another affidavit. That was consistent with autopsy findings that had not been made public at that time.

Marcum also was indicted in Fayette County on a charge of intimidating a witness. She allegedly threatened a Georgetown woman after learning that the woman had spoken with a state police detective about the Madison County murder investigation.

Marcum pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree disorderly conduct in April 2012. She received credit for serving 90 days in jail. She is being held in the Madison County Detention Center as she awaits trial in the Madison murder case.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305 Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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