By Fred Petke / Staff Writer
Loretta Evans said there was no plan to kill or rob Edgar Perkins when she and Evelyn Ball went to his Williamsburg home two years ago.
He reportedly died after making a comment that “set off” Ball in a rage, Evans testified Tuesday afternoon to close the first day of their capital murder trial.
“She took a man down,” Evans said on the verge of tears. “I’ve told (my story) regardless ... on account of Mr. Perkins. I at least owe him that.”
Ball and Evans are accused of killing the 76-year-old Perkins in the living room of his trailer on May 11, 2004. Perkins’ brother Philip found him lying face-up in the middle of his living room floor in the early hours of May 12. Edgar Perkins’ empty wallet was found on the counter.
The two women, through their attorneys, started pointing fingers at each other as soon as the opening statements concluded.
Evans spent nearly two hours on the witness stand Tuesday, fulfilling part of her agreement with prosecutors. Evans, 34, voluntarily waived her rights against self-incrimination and was called as a prosecution witness, telling her story of the incident. In exchange, she would not face the death penalty should she be convicted.
Ball, though, is facing the full range of possible sentences, including death, if she is found guilty by the jury.
Evans and Ball met Perkins at Buckner’s in Jellico, Tenn. a couple of weeks prior to his death. Perkins, Evans said, was a “very well-mannered man.” She and Perkins had dinner once more before he invited Ball and Evans to his home on May 11. Evans said all three were drinking beer, wine and whiskey at his home when Perkins reportedly made a statement about liking young girls.
“I’m sitting down and she was hitting him with a bottle,” Evans said. “They’re struggling. He’s saying ‘call 911.’”
Eventually, Evans said Ball wrestled him to the floor, was choking him with both hands and had her left knee on his chest. At that point, Evans said she ran outside.
“I saw her on top of him,” Evans said. “I left when I saw I couldn’t get her off him.”
Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said there was no broken glass at the scene. None was found in any wounds during the autopsy, Kentucky Medical Examiner Dr. Cristin Rolf said.
The autopsy showed Perkins died from asphyxiation by strangulation. Toxicology results showed he had a blood-alcohol level of approximately 0.14 at the time of his death, Rolf said.
Ball’s attorney Brenda Popplewell painted an opposite picture in her opening statement, claiming Evans was the aggressor and robber and that she started framing Ball the moment the incident occurred. Ball, she said, has a past of mental problems and was a “fragile” person.
“(Evans) begins to frame Ms. Ball because she knows how easy a patsy she could be,” Popplewell said.
Evans, she said, took every opportunity to dodge and hide while Ball talked to police on several occasions prior to her arrest and before checking into a Tennessee hospital for mental treatment.
“Evelyn didn’t hide because she didn’t need to hide,” Popplewell said.
Evans spoke to Williamsburg Police Detective Wayne Bird after hearing Ball checked herself into the hospital. Evans said Ball had threatened to kill her several times and was afraid for her life.
The trial is expected to continue the rest of the week.
Fred Petke can be reached at fpetke@thetimes tribune.com.
By Fred Petke / Staff Writer
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