Richmond murder trial: Woman's body was cut up and put into six garbage bags

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

RICHMOND — The violence inflicted upon Angela Frazier Singleton before and after she died was the grisly focus of Tuesday afternoon testimony in the Christina Tompkins Marcum trial.

Marcum, 30, is accused of the 2011 murder of Singleton, 25. A 2011 indictment said Marcum and Jason Singleton killed his wife, Angela Singleton, then "removed, destroyed, concealed and altered" her body. Jason Singleton, 37, is serving a 30-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to complicity to murder.

Dr. Victoria Shively-Graham, a medical examiner, testified that Angela Singleton's remains came to her as they had been found in a field in northwestern Madison County — cut up and put into six black garbage bags.

Angela Singleton's head had been severed and her nose had been fractured, Graham testified. Ribs on both sides of Singleton's rib cage had been fractured. She had been stabbed, and the remains showed evidence of a number of bruises, scratches and tearing of the skin. Tattoos that would have easily identified her had been sliced away from the skin.

The cause of Singleton's death was "asphyxia (lack of oxygen) via strangulation." Graham said she knows that because petechiae — tiny burst blood vessels — were found in the whites of Singleton's eyes and in her throat.

The defense, which casts Jason Singleton as a murderer and Marcum as having nothing to do with the death, had said during its Monday opening statement that Marcum had come in on Jason Singleton as he was choking his wife and kneeling upon her chest. The defense said Marcum heard Angela Singleton's ribs crack beneath the pressure of her husband.

Co-defense attorney Ted Shouse asked Graham if the injuries on Angela Singleton's remains were consistent with someone kneeling on her chest, choking her and banging her head against the floor.

"That is a possibility," Graham said.

Shouse asked if someone could have heard the ribs breaking several feet away. Yes, Graham said.

The prosecution's theory and stance is that Marcum and Jason Singleton acted together in Angela Singleton's death, so it doesn't matter who inflicted the fatal blows.

Jurors heard Kentucky State Police Sgt. Bill Collins narrate a 23-minute video taken during a search of Jason Singleton's house on Forest Hill Drive in Richmond. It is the prosecution's theory and belief that Angela Singleton was killed in that house.

State police searched the house for 28 hours after executing a warrant. State police took cushions from a sofa that had reacted to potential blood evidence that would have been undetectable to visual examination, Collins said.

Tuesday morning was taken up with testimony from Vanessa Goodin, a cousin of Angela Singleton. She testified that she had seen Christina Tompkins physically attack Jason Singleton at a barbecue in the late summer of 2010 after he had apparently shown too much attention to Goodin and another woman.

Tompkins and Jason Singleton were together at that time but Singleton would later dump her for Angela Frazier. The prosecution contends that Christina Tompkins Marcum was furious when Jason Singleton eventually forsook her for Angela.

Jason Singleton happened to be introduced to Angela as she and Goodin were at a bar listening to a live band.

"Do you wish you could do that night over?" Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith asked Goodin.

"Absolutely," Goodin said.

Testimony in the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday. No testimony will be heard Thursday because a number of other matters are scheduled for the court docket.

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

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