RICHMOND — Christina Tompkins Marcum is either a "masterful liar" and manipulator who helped her ex-fiance kill his wife, or she had nothing to do with the murder and dismemberment of Angela Singleton and feared the same could happen to her.
A Madison Circuit Court jury must decide which of those two vastly different characterizations is true of Marcum, 30, a Georgetown woman who is on trial for the 2011 murder of Singleton, 25. The prosecution and the defense presented the two stories to a jury during opening statements on the trial's first day.
Singleton's severed head was found on Jan. 19, 2011 in a black trash bag, and her other body parts were discovered in other bags tossed in a field on Tattler's Branch Road in northwestern Madison County. Angela Singleton had been stabbed and strangled, an autopsy would reveal.
A 2011 indictment said Marcum and Jason Singleton killed his wife, Angela Frazier Singleton, then "removed, destroyed, concealed and altered" her body. Jason Singleton, 37, is serving a 30-year sentence at Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex in Morgan County after pleading guilty last year to complicity to murder.
In addition to murder, Marcum is charged with tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution.
The defense and prosecution agree that Jason Singleton was engaged to Christina Tompkins, and that they lived together at a home on Forest Hill Drive on Richmond's west side.
They agree that Jason Singleton, who was married twice before, fell out with Tompkins and later married Angela Frazier after a two-day courtship. Tompkins, meanwhile, had married high school boyfriend Nick Marcum. The prosecution and defense even agree that Angela and Christina did not like each other.
But defense attorney Steve Romines said Marcum was "not involved in the murder of Angela Singleton in any way." He said "suspicion and innuendo and half-truths" are all that the prosecution has to offer the jury.
"Nothing connects her to any of it," he said.
Romines points the finger at Jason Singleton as Angela's sole killer. The reason: Angela Singleton had told Kentucky State Police about Jason's criminal activities, including the making of fake Florida driver's licenses that were used in the drug trade funneling prescription pills into Kentucky.
"The reason she is killed is she has ratted on the organization," Romines told the jury. "The last person who told police about his crimes got cut up and put in garbage bags."
Marcum did come back to the Singleton house to find Jason Singleton choking his wife, and he had both of his knees on top of her rib cage, Romines said.
Kentucky State Police talked with Marcum a couple of times, but she didn't tell them everything she knew because she didn't want to wind up like Angela Singleton, Romines said.
"Better to be tried by 12 than to be carried by six," he told the jurors.
But in her opening statement, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jennifer Smith painted an entirely different portrait of Marcum.
Marcum was the one who inserted herself into the lives of Jason and Angela Singleton, Smith said. Marcum harassed the couple with repeated telephone calls, went to their house at all hours of the day, broke their windows, and urinated on their front porch door mat.
The day after Angela Singleton's body was found, Jason Singleton was arrested in Somerset after holding several people hostage. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing Nick Marcum's clothes and carrying Nick Marcum's credit card — items that Christina Marcum had given him.
Marcum was not scared of Jason Singleton, Smith said. Rather, after his arrest, she visited him in Pulaski County jail. She used a false name — "Wiggy Wiggy" — when she put money on his jail account. Marcum visited him in jail and discussed strategies to employ for his defense. One idea was for her to try to have sex with the lead detective in an attempt to influence his investigation. She also attended Jason Singleton's court appearance in Somerset and visited him while at the facility where he was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation.
Smith said Marcum repeatedly told state police detectives, "I can't tell you anything until I have a deal."
Smith said the jurors should ask themselves a series of questions when the case is finally presented to them for deliberations.
"Does an innocent person stalk a person for weeks?" Smith asked. "Does an innocent person lie about their involvement? Does an innocent person demand a deal before telling what they know?"
And Smith added: Does an innocent person continue to seek out the company of the very person they say choked the life out of his wife?
The trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday in Madison Circuit Court.