By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
“This is what this case is all about.”
That’s what Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Trimble said Wednesday to a jury after showing them a graphic picture of a bloody victim in a stabbing attack in February.
Trimble leads the prosecution of 30-year-old Anthony Edward Potter-Spicer, of Williamsburg, who faces attempted murder charges in that stabbing attack on his girlfriend, Ashley Warren.
Warren, a mother of three, suffered 16 stab wounds during an attack on Feb. 22 in the yard of a Skyview Drive residence in Williamsburg.
Potter-Spicer was arrested and charged in the attack — his trial began Wednesday.
It resumes at 9 a.m. today.
Once the eight-woman, five-man jury was selected in the morning, Circuit Court Judge Dan Ballou recessed for lunch with plans to reconvene to begin the trial at 1 p.m.
Once the trial began, Trimble stood and said he had an issue to address prior to allowing the jury to enter the courtroom. Jim Wren, defense attorney for Potter-Spicer, first requested his client be brought into the courtroom.
Although still in custody at the Whitley County Detention Center, Potter-Spicer entered the courtroom without cuffs and wearing dress clothes.
After some discussion concerning stipulating impending testimony and evidence, as well as sequestration of witnesses, jurors, officers “and especially the victim,” the jurors were seated in the courtroom.
The first thing jurors were shown was that graphic photo of Warren.
She appeared to be on the grass, on her back, with her head slightly to one side. Her face was covered in blood, her eyes looked closed.
Trimble pointed to the picture, which was broadcast on a large television facing the jurors and the gallery. Jurors were also able to see the photo on smaller screens set up in front of them.
“This is what this case is all about,” he said during his opening statement.
Trimble then talked about the attack on Warren.
“She was struggling for her life, (thinking about) her three infant children and what (would happen) to them if she did not make it,” he told jurors, adding that she suffered 16 stab wounds in the attack.
He then told jurors what to expect in the way of evidence against Potter-Spicer.
“(You’re going to) hear a frantic, desperate 911 call,” Trimble said. “You’ll hear the desperate, frantic screams of Ms. (Betty) Bundy.”
Bundy, who resides on Skyview Drive, witnessed the attack, which happened in her yard.
Trimble then said Warren was also set to testify in the trial. He said that Warren had ended the relationship with Potter-Spicer in October — the two had lived together during their six-year “on-again, off-again” relationship.
However, Trimble told jurors the night of the attack, Warren’s Emlyn home was burned in a fire.
While it wasn’t made clear how Potter-Spicer ended up with Warren that night, Trimble said she took Potter-Spicer to the Skyview Drive residence of Vincent Lawson, where Potter-Spicer resided.
“She’ll tell you that on the way she saw a knife, which caused her great concern,” Trimble told jurors, adding that she reportedly asked Potter-Spicer why he had the knife with him.
“She was scared,” Trimble said, adding that once she arrived at the Lawson home, “she stopped the car, jumped (out) and ran.”
Trimble said the defendant then exited the vehicle.
“He ran after her, tackled her, then began to repeatedly stab her,” he said, alleging that during the attack Potter-Spicer “tried to cut her throat.”
He told jurors Warren has undergone kidney surgery, intestinal surgery, and bears several scars from the attack.
“The saddest injury (she) received was to her hands,” Trimble said, adding that she required extensive hand surgery to repair the damage. “(She wondered) if she’d ever be able to hold her child again.”
He talked again about Potter-Spicer’s alleged role in the attack. “After he stabbed her, he ran — he hid,” Trimble said. “It took police four hours to find him.”
The photo of Warren’s blood-splattered face, neck and hands remained in view during Trimble’s opening statement. “(This) case is summed up with one picture,” he said.
Then Wren’s opportunity to give an opening statement for the defense came up, but Wren told the court they were going “to reserve our opening statement.”
That allowed Trimble to call his first witness — Jessica Taylor, with Whitley County 911.
After her testimony established the 911 center’s protocol and how phone calls are logged and recorded, Trimble played the 911 call received by dispatchers on Feb. 22, the night of the attack.
While much of the audio included background noise and was difficult to understand, it was clear what was being reported that night.
The caller was Bundy.
“Help me, help me,” the caller said in what could be described as an hysterical way.
The dispatcher attempted to calm her down. Then a great deal of static and unintelligible words came through, and the dispatcher twice asked what was going on.
“He’s on top of her,” the caller screamed.
“Is she stabbed?” asked the dispatcher.
“Yes, he stabbed her several times,” the caller yelled.
Then crying, and screaming, and “hurry” could be heard, followed by some more unintelligible activity, then a disconnection.
When they reconnected, the caller said in a higher voice the attack was in her yard.
Some more basic questions were asked, concerning the vehicle type and the condition of the victim.
But the approximate 10-minute call ended, and it was entered as evidence in the trial.
Wren then questioned Taylor, especially concerning possible time differences in logbooks and calls.
It was determined through her testimony that “a rough two-minute time difference” could exist between the computer time and the logbook.
Wren also questioned Taylor about the abbreviations used by dispatchers when entering information, what they meant and what activities were being represented.
Wren brought out a printout of a log sheet from those two February days, and asked Taylor to review a copy for herself.
Taylor was asked to read several various log entries throughout the late evening hours of Feb. 22 and early morning hours of Feb. 23. She read them both “word for word” and then the interpretation of the “shorthand” used by dispatchers. Those entries included requests to fax suspect information to news agencies to assist in the manhunt.
During this testimony, Trimble made several objections, including two alleging that Wren’s questions to the witness required “triple hearsay” assumptions.
He also had Taylor read a few of the logbook entries, including one that requested information about Potter-Spicer from the Whitley County Detention Center, where he was jailed more than half a dozen times for various charges since 2005.
Once her testimony was concluded, she was released from the case.
That brought out witness number two for the day — television reporter Phillip Pendleton.
After Potter-Spicer’s arrest, a television reporter (not Pendleton) came to interview Potter-Spicer in the Whitley County Detention Center. It was not made clear in court, nor was it clear in archives which reporter interviewed Potter-Spicer. However, Pendleton was there to testify to the validity of the video interview.
Trimble asked Pendleton if it was customary for the news agency to interview someone charged in a crime, to which Pendleton testified it does happen. It was established the interview with the defendant was subpoenaed for use as evidence in March.
Wren then questioned Pendleton, asking about the aforementioned 911 dispatch logbooks. In those log entries, it was established through testimony that “per request” of the police, information about the suspect was to be faxed the night of the attack to two television stations, and telephone numbers were included in the logbook entry.
Pendleton was asked if he recognized the numbers, which he said he did not.
Wren asked Pendleton several times how it was that his news agency was able to get to the Whitley County Detention Center for an interview just hours after Potter-Spicer’s arrest — to which Pendleton said he was not aware of that.
Trimble followed up by asking Pendleton if it was common for law enforcement to employ the help of the media when seeking a suspect, to which Pendleton said yes.
Then he was excused as a witness, and a 15-minute break was called by the judge.
The third and final witness for the day was Betty Bundy, in whose yard the attack on Warren happened.
Bundy testified the first thing she heard in relation to the attack that night was a woman screaming for help.
“I got up and went outside to the front yard,” she said. “(I) saw Ashley on the ground and Anthony on his knees beside of her — he was stabbing her.”
She added that she was “very close” to the victim and suspect at that moment.
Trimble asked if she knew Potter-Spicer prior to the attack.
“He was living next door,” she said. “He was good to me.”
She added that she knew Warren “in passing,” and knew her enough to recognize her. Bundy testified in a quavery voice that during the attack, she asked Potter-Spicer to stop.
“He was stabbing her — you know?” she said. “Like he was in a trance.”
She further testified that Warren “was begging him to stop.”
“After you saw this, what did you do?” Trimble asked.
“I asked (Potter-Spicer) ‘Don’t you love me?’” Bundy said. “He stopped, and looked up at me.”
She said she went into her house to get the phone, and when she came back out, she “got hold of (Potter-Spicer’s) sweatshirt, and he got up and left.”
She then testified she called 911 dispatchers.
After Potter-Spicer left, “my focus went on her (Warren),” Bundy testified. “I saw blood on her face and just went into hysterical screaming.”
She then testified she did remember speaking to Warren after the attack, asking her if she wanted a blanket.
“’Tell my girls that I love them,’” Bundy said Warren told her. “I told her not to talk like that.”
Wren then questioned Bundy, asking about her testimony that Potter-Spicer was “in a trance.”
But that brought an objection from Trimble, as there was little time for Bundy to ascertain the defendant’s mental condition “in a short amount of time.”
Wren attempted to question Bundy further about the initial contact with Potter-Spicer the night of the attack, but Trimble further objected.
A third objection from Trimble brought the two attorneys to the judge’s bench for a conference. When Wren resumed his questioning, he asked again about what her perception was concerning Potter-Spicer’s actions during and after the attack.
“Yeah, he was like a crazy man,” she said. “(When) a man who you’ve known is stabbing a woman over and over and over it makes you think about a crazy person.”
She also testified that she witnessed some of the interaction between the couple during their relationship, adding that “to me, (their relationship) was not normal.”
When Wren asked if she felt there were problems in their relationship, Bundy said, “I figured that wouldn’t be any of my business.”
Concerning her knowledge of the defendant, Bundy said again that Potter-Spicer “treated her good.” She testified he would mow her yard, and when he would visit for coffee, he would clean her kitchen and take out the garbage.
Trimble then asked her about her knowledge of Warren. “I did not know a whole lot about her,” Bundy said.
Bundy was then asked to step down, but it was unclear whether she would be recalled to testify.
Then jurors watched the TV interview, which showed Potter-Spicer, who said he “snapped” after allegedly discovering Warren had cheated on him. In that video he was sporting a gauze bandage on his right hand, which he said in the video was from “an altercation.”
In that video, Potter-Spicer said after the fire, Warren had admitted to him that she had cheated on him.
“I kind of snapped,” he said. “It was a pretty bad altercation (is) all I can tell you.”
Fighting back tears, Potter-Spicer apologizes to Warren and his parents.
“Tell them I’m sorry — I snapped,” he said during the interview. “Tell her I’m sorry and I love her with all my heart.”
Wren did voice an objection to the video, however, it was overruled.
The trial resumes in Whitley County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. today.