LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The opening day of testimony in the Thorsten rushing murder trial came to an abrupt halt Monday, shortly after one of his alleged co-conspirators took the stand.
Rushing is accused of shooting his father and brother to death in their home in Lawton. Monday morning’s opening statements at the Comanche County Courthouse followed four days of jury selection last week. Testimony is expected to last two weeks, but Monday’s session was cut short following an objection by Rushing's attorney.
The four men who have pleaded guilty to their roles in the crime, including the murder plot, are all scheduled to testify against rushing. Ethan Thompson is one of them. He had just begun his testimony, when defense attorney Stephen Jones objected to the line of questioning.
Thompson had been giving his testimony for about 10 minutes when Jones stepped in. He was beginning to testify about Rushing conspiring to commit the murder of his father, Uwe. That’s when Jones said he had a legal problem with the questioning that he needed answers for.
The judge and attorneys for both sides went into the judge's chambers for about 15 minutes before returning and telling the jury they were dismissed for the day while they worked on the issue. Jones said he did not believe the state had enough evidence to prove the conspiracy so he did not believe Thompson should be able to testify on the conspiracy.
Prosecutor Mark Stoneman and Lawton Police Department Detective Mark Schucker then presented the judge all of the evidence they had on the conspiracy charge before he decided that Thompson's testimony could be heard.
Before the trial was halted, the jury heard opening statements from both sides.
In his opening statement, Stoneman focused on Rushing betraying his family and then playing the victim just hours later. He assured the jurors that the evidence and testimony they would hear would prove he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jones then gave his opening statements, in which he started by bringing a Lawton Police Department interview into question. He said it was a recorded interview with the grandparents of Thorsten Rushing. He said that after the interview, the tape recorder remained on and recorded a conversation between detectives, in which they said Thorsten Rushing would be going to jail, even though they had not conducted any interviews or found any evidence yet.
Jones said that conversation shows that detectives were set on Rushing as the main suspect and conducted the investigation to prove he had done it rather than to find who had really done it.
The state then called its first witness, Comanche County Emergency Management Director Darrell Morgan. The state played the 911 call made by Rushing at the time of the murders, saying two men had killed his father and brother during a home invasion. During that call, the dispatcher asked Rushing if he saw the killers, or where they went. Jones said that call sounded like an interrogation rather than an effort to get help but Morgan said that is simply protocol to ensure officers exactly what they are walking into.
The jury also listened to testimony from Lawton Police Department Sergeant Stephanie Crawford, who was the first person on the scene of the crime. She said that she noticed Rushing was unusually calm when she arrived and that when she checked the victims for a pulse, the blood was dry already. Jones questioned why she had not written that in her initial report on the incident. She said she wrote it in her supplemental report the next day after she had more time to process everything that happened.