Crime

At Lasure murder trial, police officer describes surrender

Toby Ray Lasure watched as his attorney, Rawl Kazee, went through papers  during his murder trial in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Ky., Monday, February 14, 2011. Toby Ray Lasure is on trial for murder in the death of Christopher Tolliver at Lexington Green on March 5, 2009. Charles Bertram | Staff
Toby Ray Lasure watched as his attorney, Rawl Kazee, went through papers during his murder trial in Fayette Circuit Court in Lexington, Ky., Monday, February 14, 2011. Toby Ray Lasure is on trial for murder in the death of Christopher Tolliver at Lexington Green on March 5, 2009. Charles Bertram | Staff

Lexington police officer Ricky Lynn talked to Toby Lasure for about 31/2 hours, trying to persuade him to get out of his car and surrender to police on March 5, 2009, Lynn told a Fayette Circuit Court jury Monday.

As Lynn talked to Lasure on a cell phone, other officers tossed bottled water to Lasure, who was parked in the lot at Ridge Behavioral Health System on Rio Dosa Drive.

Tony Devreux, whom prosecutors have said had a relationship with Lasure, had been unsuccessful in his attempts to get his friend out of the car. Devreux handed Lynn the cell phone on which he'd been talking to Lasure, Lynn said.

Lynn's conversation with Lasure ended because Lasure wanted a cigarette and wanted to talk to Devreux again, according to the officer. Lynn said police didn't want to put Devreux in danger, and Lynn told Lasure he could speak to Devreux if he'd get out of the car. Lasure came out with his hands up, he said.

Lynn was one of several witnesses in the trial of Lasure, 33, who is accused of fatally shooting his ex-boyfriend Christopher Tolliver earlier that afternoon in the parking lot of The Mall at Lexington Green. In addition to murder, Lasure is charged with fleeing and evading police and leaving the scene of an accident.

Police officers testified that a semi-automatic handgun and a spent shell casing were on the front passenger's seat of Lasure's car after the standoff ended. Police also found in the car a prescription bottle bearing Lasure's name that contained 51 pills. Susan Robinson, a forensic scientist for Kentucky State Police, said the prescription — for 60 tablets of clonazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, with one tablet to be taken twice daily — had been filled three days earlier.

Several Lexington police officers testified about a high-speed chase that ended at Ridge. They said Lasure drove more than 90 to 100 mph at times. At one point, Lasure drove between two lanes of traffic stopped at a light on Tates Creek Road, shearing the side mirror off one vehicle. On New Circle Road, vehicles went into the median to get out of Lasure's way, officers testified. Officers were especially concerned because it was nearly time for school to be out and was close to rush hour.

Police Sgt. Patrick McBride, the first officer involved in the pursuit, said that just after the chase ended at the treatment center parking lot, Lasure screamed at him, saying he was not going to get out of his car. Lasure kept moving a gun from the side of his head to his mouth, McBride said.

Lasure listened calmly throughout the day as one prosecution witness after another testified.

But when Dr. Jennifer Schott, a forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Tolliver, began describing Tolliver's wounds, Lasure began crying softly and rocking in his chair.

Earlier Monday, witnesses testified about what they saw and heard at Lexington Green the day Tolliver was shot.

Dan Faulkner, who had gone to the shopping center to pick up some books, said he saw a man falling as he drove into the parking lot.

Another man stood over the fallen man, then turned to walk away, stepping over the fallen man, Faulkner said. As the man was leaving, he said, he and the man made eye contact.

"The look was rather blank and calm," Faulkner said.

Faulkner gave a brief demonstration of what he saw, then walked toward the defendant's table and identified Toby Lasure — someone he said he had seen occasionally at Ford's Fitness Center — as the man who had been standing over the other man.

Faulkner said he checked on Tolliver after Lasure left. At one point, he said, Tolliver raised his head. Faulkner told him to relax and that help was on the way.

David Tzouanakis said he and his friend Brian Engle had just returned to the mall parking lot, where Tzouanakis' car was parked, after spending time at a shooting range when they heard what sounded like a gunshot.

"It was confusing because it was out of place," he said.

Tzouanakis said he also heard yelling.

"It was kind of like aggressive questioning. It started out low and ended up very high," he said. "I saw the victim on his knees, and I saw movement behind him."

Tzouanakis said he saw Lasure with a gun.

Tolliver was on his knees and then Lasure raised the pistol and fired into the back of Tolliver's head, Tzouanakis said. Lasure was not more than 2 or 3 feet from Tolliver, he said.

Lasure calmly stepped over Tolliver and walked to a nearby car, stopping briefly to look in Tzouanakis' direction, he said.

Tzouanakis said he ran to Tolliver and called 911. He asked Tolliver a few questions and could tell Tolliver understood them, but he could not understand Tolliver's replies, he said.

Tolliver's older sister Joyce "Joy" Middleton of Lawrenceburg also testified Monday.

She said Tolliver, who lived with her and her husband at the time of the shooting, had a bachelor's degree in music and was the music director at Lexington Children's Theatre.

"He loved working with the children," she said.

At the time of his death, Tolliver was working on music for an outdoor drama about Col. Harland Sanders, who started Kentucky Fried Chicken, she said.

Lasure ate at Middleton's house the Thanksgiving before the shooting. She said she and her mother saw Lasure again at a production at Lexington Children's Theatre.

Lasure's trial continues Tuesday.

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