Both sides present closing in Shepherd trial

October 8, 2008 3:02:28 PM PDT
Closing arguments were given this morning in the Timothy Shepherd murder trial. Yesterday, both sides rested after emotional testimony.Timothy Shepherd could find out by this evening if he will spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him only took a few days to present and his defense took even less time.

Shepherd is on trial for allegedly killing his girlfriend, Tynesha Stewart, who was a student at Texas A&M. It was March of 2007 when the 19-year-old Stewart disappeared. Prosecutors say after Shepherd killed her, he dismembered her body and then burned her remains on barbeque grills.

Prosecutor Kebharu Smith also delivered his closing argument, telling jurors defendant Timothy Shepherd is simply a killer who "had a license to control... and kill" a "(expletive)" who disrespected him.

Smith urged jurors to consider all facts before, during and after her death, pointing to testimony from her dorm roommate, Lindsay Steichen, who said Shepherd called incessantly. He called repeatedly on Tynesha's cell phone, their landline and also her own cell, laving threatening voice mail messages.

Defense attorney Chip Lewis painted a picture of a case wrought with "gaps" and improper law enforcement and legal procedure. He said the arrest and charge were investigators' "sole focus."

Lewis told jurors that prosecutors created a crescendo with testimony from Dr. Jennifer Love from the medical examiner's office who testified she could not say whether bone fragments collected were human or non-human.

"Their story doesn't contain jack," he told jurors.

Lewis told jurors those gaps are reasonable doubt.

Lead prosecutor Marie Primm told jurors "not to leave your common sense in the hallway." She said Shepherd "systematically and methodically disposed" of Stewart's remains to hide the evidence.

"People do not dismember and dispose of bodies unless they have a reason," she said.

Then she told jurors that strangely, "No one has questioned Tynesha Stewart is dead." Then Primm ran through testimony from various witnesses, reminding them of Shepherd barbecuing for three days straight, the rank odor from the barbecue pits, fire officials who saw meat in the bath tub at Shepherd's apartment, the smell of ammonia and Clorox in his apartment and freshly painted walls shortly after her disappearance.

She emphasized testimony from a neighbor of Shepherd who heard pounding, running water and a garbage disposal running all night, all proof of Shepherd's cover-up, Primm said.

"He put her in the bath tub. He dismembered her there," she said. "Then he barbecued her... Then he put her in the garbage disposal."

She urged jurors to watch a video where Shepherd talked "amazingly calmly" to authorities and reporters shortly after Tynesha vanished, and just two or three days after Tynesha's mother had knocked on his door in a panic about her daughters whereabouts and safety.

"You've seen the phone records.. .But Tynesha won't be making any more calls.... Shes gone," said Primm.

On the stand yesterday was Stewart's mother, Gail Shields. She testified that when she went to Shepherd's apartment looking for her daughter, Shepherd would not even look her in the eyes and didn't seem too concerned about Tynesha's whereabouts, only saying Tynesha left his apartment walking after the two had a disagreement.

Shepherd could face life in prison if convicted.

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