Arson, attempted murder trial underway
The Franklin County District Attorney's Office began presenting testimony in the arson and attempted murder case against a Red Bay man. District Attorney Joey Rushing opened the trial with his opening statement Tuesday morning.
The state contends that Courtney Strickland, 27, of 100 Triplet Drive in Red Bay, started the fire at 1406 Highway 187 in the Belgreen community on May 18, 2008.
Rushing called police and fire officials who responded to the 911 call made by passerby Terry Braxton Dempsey and his wife around 10:30 that morning.
"This was an obvious arson," Rushing told the jury. "A welding torch was found in the house beside a mattress."
The homeowners stated that the torch had been in the garage when they left for church shortly before the fired started.
Defense Attorney Rebecca Green-Thomason contents that Strickland did not start the fire at the Borden residence, and that he and Borden are a victims of a destructive woman since Strickland and Borden had a relationship with the same woman.
"This man did not start that fire," Thomason told the jury.
Fire Marshall Jimmy Collier testified that he declared the fire an arson, but admitted no tests were done to rule out a methamphetamine fire was done upon cross-examination by Thomason.
Dempsey took the stand to recount the events that took place that day.
Dempsey testified that he and his wife attempted to
"I beat on the door three times because I didn't think there was anyone inside," Dempsey said. "My wife beat more than I did."
Dempsey testified that the intended victim, David Borden, was seen coming from around the side of the house.
"He seemed like he might be in a state of shock," Dempsey said. "Wearing a pair of black shorts."
Three other witnesses testified that they saw Strickland near the Borden residence around the time the fire began.
Jerry Prince also took the stand. Prince testified that Strickland told him he was responsible for the Borden fire during an altercation in June.
Thomason tried to discredit the testimony during cross-examination stating that Prince assaulted Strickland during that altercation. Prince denied the assault.
Testimony is expected to go through today with the jury going to deliberations tomorrow.
"It's hard to tell how long the trial will last," Rushing said. "We expected a two-day trial, but it's looking like it may go into Thursday."
Court will reconvene at 8:30 this morning.