Crime

Lasure: 'I didn't know what he was going to do. ... So I shot him'

Toby Lasure, on trial for murder in the 2009 slaying of Christopher Tolliver at The Mall at Lexington Green, grabbed a tissue during his emotional testimony Tuesday. Lasure said he shot Tolliver because Tolliver planned to confront Lasure's boyfriend, whom Lasure said he "had to protect."
Toby Lasure, on trial for murder in the 2009 slaying of Christopher Tolliver at The Mall at Lexington Green, grabbed a tissue during his emotional testimony Tuesday. Lasure said he shot Tolliver because Tolliver planned to confront Lasure's boyfriend, whom Lasure said he "had to protect."

Toby Lasure took the witness stand Tuesday to defend himself in the shooting death of Christopher Tolliver, a man Lasure said he cared about but did not consider to be a boyfriend.

Lasure, often wiping away a steady stream of tears, told jurors in Fayette Circuit Court that Tolliver called Lasure and told him to meet Tolliver the afternoon of March 5, 2009, at The Mall at Lexington Green and instructed Lasure to bring money and a gun.

Once he got there, Lasure said, he and Tolliver argued about Tony Devereaux, with whom Lasure had had an on-again, off-again relationship for about 17 months.

Lasure said Tolliver, 31, asked Lasure how he could keep going back to Devereaux after the abuse Devereaux had subjected him to.

"How can you go back to him? He called you worthless," Lasure said Tolliver said to him.

Tolliver said he planned to go to Ridge Behavioral Health System, where Devereaux worked, to talk to Devereaux, Lasure said.

"I didn't know what he was going to do. I had to protect Tony. So I shot him," Lasure said of Tolliver.

Lasure, now 33, said he first shot Tolliver as they sat in Lasure's car. Lasure said he did not remember shooting Tolliver a second time in the head or talking to police later that day. He said he just remembered waking up in jail.

In addition to murder, Lasure is charged with fleeing and evading police, and leaving the scene of an accident.

Lasure, the first witness called by the defense, testified for about 30 minutes Tuesday afternoon. The prosecution wrapped up its case earlier Tuesday, the third day of the trial.

Some of Lasure's testimony was inconsistent with what he had told police in a recorded interview several hours after the shooting. The 45-minute interview was played for the jury.

In the police interview, Lasure told two Lexington homicide detectives that he and Tolliver had been a couple but that Tolliver had stopped coming around.

"We were perfect," he told the detectives.

He also told them he loved Devereaux, with whom he lived at the time of the shooting, but that Devereaux had not been responsive to him.

"He's not touched me in eight months. He barely even hugs me," Lasure said of Dev ereaux.

Devereaux did not know about Lasure's relationship with Tolliver, Lasure said. If Devereaux had found out about the relationship, Lasure told the detectives, Devereaux would beat Lasure to death.

In the interview, Lasure said he called Tolliver on March 5, 2009, and Tolliver told Lasure to meet him at the mall parking lot. When they met at the mall, Lasure said he was absolutely destroyed by comments Tolliver made.

During their confrontation, Lasure said Tolliver told him: "You're useless and you're worthless, and you'll never amount to anything."

Moments later, Lasure said, he shot Tolliver.

"It's like it wasn't me," Lasure said. "I was there, but it wasn't me. I wasn't in control."

Lasure told the officers he didn't feel that Devereaux loved him. Lasure said Dev ereaux, a clinical psychologist at Ridge Behavioral Health System on Rio Dosa Drive, was abusive to him, at first emotionally. Lasure said all he wanted was Devereaux to tell Lasure he loved him, and Devereaux had not done it yet.

Lasure said he put everything he had into his relationship with Tolliver, but Tolliver just wanted him for money.

"I don't have anything to offer anyone but love," Lasure said.

When the detectives told Lasure he was being charged with murder, Lasure said he did not know that Tolliver was dead, according to the recorded interview.

"Is he dead?" Lasure asked the detectives.

A detective said "yes," and Lasure started sobbing. Lasure then said, "I didn't mean to do it, I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.

Lasure told the officers in a whisper that he had a lot of problems. He also expressed concern about being raped in jail.

He was fat and picked on as a kid, so he turned to bodybuilding, he said. He finished second in a bodybuilding contest, he told the detectives.

Lasure also told the detectives his father was physically abusive and his mother was mentally abusive. They kicked him out of the house when he was a teenager after he told them he was gay, he said.

Lasure said he had been alone for 15 years and couldn't take it anymore. He said he had been hearing voices since his family kicked him out. Voices told him the day of the shooting that he needed to take the gun, he said.

But on the witness stand Tuesday, Lasure said he told a therapist just before the shooting that he had heard voices only when he was much younger and "drug induced."

Lasure said in the interview with police that he was a cutter and that he cut his leg the morning of the shooting.

"I don't have a support system; I don't have any friends," Lasure told the detectives.

Lasure told them he had worked for five years at New Beginnings Bluegrass Inc., a Fayette County non-profit agency that supplies housing and support services for people with mental illness. Lasure said he was responsible for making sure patients took their medications, and he documented their behavior. Lasure said he was taking courses at Eastern Kentucky University to further his career in psychiatric nursing.

Devereaux, who took the witness stand later in the day, recalled that his first date with Lasure was May 19, 2007.

Devereaux said he and Lasure were working out at a gym in September 2008, and Tolliver was there. Lasure was working on his arms and, Devereaux said, Tolliver started staring at Lasure's penis. He said he asked Tolliver what he was doing, and Tolliver walked away.

After that, Devereaux said, he told Lasure not to have contact with Tolliver. He described his relationship with Lasure as on and off.

"Toby had very few friends. He isolated" himself, Devereaux said.

Devereaux said he encouraged Lasure to get help because he thought Lasure was depressed. Devereaux said he gave Lasure a number for the Jesse G. Harris Jr. Psychological Services Center. Lasure had an appointment the day of the shooting, he said.

Devereaux said he offered to cancel a dental appointment to go with Lasure, but Lasure said no.

That afternoon, Devereaux said he and Lasure exchanged texts.

Lasure sent him a text at 3:17 p.m. that said "I shot Chris." Devereaux said Lasure told him he shot Chris in the kidney and the head.

"Initially I thought he was joking," Devereaux said.

The gun used in the shooting, according to Lasure and Devereaux, belonged to Dev ereaux, who had gotten it from his mother.

The trial is to continue at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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