Defense rests in Marcum murder trial; closing arguments to be heard Thursday

gkocher1@herald-leader.comMarch 26, 2014 

RICHMOND — Jury instructions and closing arguments are scheduled to be heard Thursday as the murder trial of Christina Tompkins Marcum winds to a conclusion.

The commonwealth finished presenting its case Wednesday, and the defense also rested after calling only one witness.

Marcum, 30, did not testify; as a defendant she is presumed innocent and is not required to take the witness stand. She is on trial in the death of Angela Frazier Singleton, 25, in January 2011.

Singleton's dismembered body was found in six garbage bags tossed into a field in rural Madison County, near the Kentucky River.

Angela Singleton's husband, Jason Singleton, 37, is serving a 30-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to complicity to murder.

In addition to murder, Marcum is charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution. If convicted, she could face life in prison.

The most compelling prosecution witness on Wednesday was Laura Young, Jason Singleton's first wife. She and Christina Marcum had developed "something of a friendship" and texted each other.

Young said she received texts from Marcum primarily on Jan. 19, 2011 — the day Angela Singleton's body was found in garbage bags and her car was found burning along Interstate 75.

At the time of the texts discussed in court, Angela Singleton had disappeared and her remains had not been found. When Young texted Marcum on whether Jason Singleton might have had something to do with Angela Singleton's disappearance, Marcum texted back: "I don't think he had a clue."

Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith noted that Young suspected Jason Singleton might be behind the disappearance.

"I do suspect Jason," Young said.

Smith asked: "Did you in any way suspect Christina Tompkins?"

"I suspected she knew something," Young said.

"But did you suspect that she had killed?" Smith asked.

"No, but I thought she knew what happened," Young said.

Later Young texted Marcum to stay away from Jason Singleton. Marcum texted back: "It's such a mess, Laura. I really fear for my own life. So please don't put my name into this. I can see it happening soon enough and I don't want it to happen any quicker than it has to. All I was doing was trying to help him get his life straight. That's all I wanted for him. I felt like I couldn't leave him to rot. I had no idea what was to come later. I wish I would have just let him live his life. ... At this point, I'm not having any contact with him."

Nevertheless, previous prosecution testimony indicated that Marcun was still in contact with Jason Singleton. Marcum also told a friend and later a state police detective that she was present when Jason Singleton was strangling Angela Singleton. The prosecution's case rests on the argument that Christina Marcum and Jason Singleton acted "in complicity with each."

Smith: "Did she (Marcum) ever mention to you that she had actually, as she claimed, watch Jason Singleton strangle Angela?"

Young: "Not while we were having those conversations, no."

On cross-examination by co-defense counsel Ted Shouse, Young acknowledged telling a friend, "If I ever turn up missing or dead, you should go look at Jason."

Later, Young said she had made that statement when she and Singleton were going through their divorce 13 years earlier.

Betty Nichols, who briefly lived in the Singleton house to tend to the Singleton children, was the only witness called by the defense.

She testified that Jason Singleton suspected that Angela Singleton was cheating on him and had said, "If I ever caught her, I'd kill her and whoever she was with."

But Nichols said Jason Singleton immediately "laughed off" that statement.

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

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