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Murder trial under way

Saying the accused killer used his girlfriend’s hammer to beat his cousin to death before disposing of his body in the Collins River, the murder trial began Tuesday against Chad Thompson, who is accused of killing Tracy Martin.
“The name of the defendant’s girlfriend is on the hammer,” revealed District Attorney General Lisa Zavogiannis during opening statements. Zavogiannis said the hammer prosecutors believe Thompson used to inflict the fatal blows had the name “NINA” inscribed on it for Nina Parker.
The hammer, the district attorney told the jury, was found next to the home of one of Thompson’s friends, the same friend who prosecutors say he tried to enlist to help rob his cousin of his Social Security money.
Prosecutors say there were two wounds on the back of Martin’s head when he was found by fishermen in November 2011. The victim’s upper torso was submerged in the river as if he had been tossed from atop the steep embankment which overlooks the confluence of the Collins River and Charles Creek. Zavogiannis maintains the wounds are consistent with being inflicted by a hammer.
However, defense attorney Bob Peters maintains a forensic examination of the hammer revealed no traces of the victim’s blood. He further contends forensic experts went over his client’s vehicle with a fine tooth comb and found no evidence to link him with his cousin’s slaying.
“He was killed over a drug deal gone bad,” said Peters, claiming Martin became involved in the meth trade in the month he had moved to McMinnville from his former home in Etowah. “He became involved in the insidious meth business in this county.”
Peters pointed out the same autopsy which revealed Martin died from blunt trauma to the head also revealed he had meth in his system.
Prosecutors maintain Martin was killed for the $1,000 he was carrying with him along with a 38-caliber gun he owned. He had only his wedding band and a watch on his person when he was found. Zavogiannis said officers had to identify the victim by his tattoos and by the fact he had been reported missing shortly before his body was found.
“He crushed the victim’s skull with two blows of the hammer,” Zavogiannis said. She added Thompson had bragged to a friend about how it felt to “feel a person’s brains crush.”
Further making prosecutors believe Thompson was responsible for his cousin’s death was his strange actions after he was under investigation. Put simply, Zavogiannis said the hunters became the hunted as the suspect began following investigators as they chased down leads.
“Chad Thompson was shadowing investigators,” Zavogiannis said.
Zavogiannis also said Thompson knew specifics about the circumstances of the murder only the killer would know since law enforcement withheld several details from the public and even the family.
“This is not a CSI case, it’s a CS case – common sense case,” Zavogiannis said.
Peters disagreed, saying prosecutors have nothing concrete to link his client to the murder.
“They questioned over 100 people in this case,” Peters said, suggesting one of the witnesses may even be the killer. “This is a confusing, complicated case.”
Testimony will continue today at 9 a.m. at Warren County Courthouse.

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