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The Journal Gazette

  • Figgs

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 1:00 am

'I can't do it,' claims murder trial witness


The first day of Christopher Figgs' second murder trial got off to a rocky start for the prosecution Tuesday.

A jury of five men and seven women plus an alternate was chosen and seated, both sides gave opening arguments and then Thomasa Hunter was called to the stand.

Hunter was sitting in a car with Edword Kiel, 28, when he was shot to death on McKinnie Avenue about 1:30 a.m. July 6, 2016. Figgs, 29, was the shooter, the prosecution says. 

In her testimony, Hunter gave responses that were often inaudible, incoherent or contradictory, and she frequently said she didn't remember key points of what happened or what she said to police or in depositions.

But she loudly stated she didn't want to be in court.

“I don't want to be here. I can't take it. I got other things to do,” she said, adding: “It took me a lot to get me here. I don't want to be in this courtroom. ... I can't do it.”

Hunter testified she drank alcohol and had been smoking marijuana before she and Kiel agreed to meet. She believed they were going to smoke together when he arrived by car at her mother's house where she was at the time.

She said she and Kiel, whom she had known only a short time, “were talking” and she fell asleep from “the sound of his voice” in the nearly 45 minutes between Kiel's arrival and the shooting.

However, she testified she did not see the shooter and that she had not identified Figgs, saying she told police only that Kiel said the person “looked like” her “baby daddy,” Figgs.

In his opening statement, Jesus “Rick” Trevino, Allen County deputy prosecutor, said that Kiel, wounded, tried to drive away but smashed the car into a tree. Trevino added that Hunter climbed over Kiel's body out a window after the crash.

“Thinking about Edword. ... I can't think about Edword. I can't think. ... I want to go to sleep,” Hunter said, holding her head in her hands in response to questions about the shooting circumstances.

She added she “lost everything” and suffered from depression after the shooting and suffered stress from her tumultuous relationship with Figgs. She said he threatened to kill her but she stayed with him because they had children together.

“It's hard to testify, period. I can't focus. My mind is here; my mind  is there,” she said, adding she “got treated like a suspect” by police.

“I'm still being treated like a suspect,” she said, adding she “wouldn't call police” if she had it to do over.

She blamed stress, pain and drugs given to her at the hospital for injuries to her neck and leg for some inconsistencies. “I didn't change my story. I just can't remember.”

Hunter testified she did not know whether she had been shot at first. 

Defense lawyer Dave Joley in his opening statement told jurors that their standard to convict was evidence that established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

He said prosecutors did not have a gun or fingerprints or DNA. “Pay close attention  to what was said and what was not said and ask yourself, 'Why?'” he said. “Finally, when you hear all the evidence you're going to think they don't have the right guy.”

Figgs' first trial in February ended when a jury could not come to a decision. He is also charged with carrying a handgun without a license and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime.

The trial is expected to end Thursday.