The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

May 3, 2013

Warren murder trial continues

By MARY RAINWATER
Palestine Herald-Press

PALESTINE — The state continued its third day of testimony Thursday in the trial of Larry Warren, who is accused in the 2010 death of a local man, bringing to the stand another round of local law enforcement officers, forensic experts and two witnesses to the shooting.

Warren, 38, is charged with murder in the death of Jacob Kennedy outside a residence in the 100 block of CR 1121, just south of Elkhart.

Authorities have said Warren shot Kennedy in the head with a .22-caliber rifle outside the residence sometime around 1 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2010, during a dispute taking place at a gathering there.

First to take the stand on Wednesday was Debra Plummer, who lived at the residence where the shooting occurred, along with her husband, Daniel Plummer, and their children.

Debra Plummer testified that she had received a call from Audrey Clark, the common-law wife of Warren, on Aug. 28, 2010, asking her to baby-sit their children so they could go on an outing.

“I said ‘no,’ but said that Stormey (Lusk, Plummer’s daughter) could do it,” Debra Plummer said. “I gave Stormey the phone and let them make the arrangements. Audrey was going to pay her cash.”

That evening, the Plummers were hosting a barbecue get-together, with the attending adults remaining outdoors drinking beer and Jagermeister and the children remaining in the house with Lusk.

“Audrey was supposed to pick up the kids at about 7 p.m., then changed it to 10 p.m., but she still hadn’t shown,” Debra Plummer said. “Stormey and I started calling her, and she stopped taking our calls at 11:30 p.m.

“So I called Larry and asked where she was,” she continued. “He said she should have been there an hour ago. I called him again and he told me that if she didn’t show up in 15 minutes to call him back and he would come get the kids.

“He also told me that if she did show up, not to let her take the kids.”

Asked if she was upset about Clark’s delay in picking up the  children, Debra Plummer said she wasn’t bothered by it until Clark stopped taking her phone calls.

“I was upset because she should have been there to pick up her kids,” Debra Plummer testified. “It was her responsibility to take care of her children.”

When Clark arrived, Plummer reported that Lusk had come outside with one of the children, and Plummer told her to take the child back inside.

“(Clark) had the window cracked, and I told her Larry said not to let the kids leave with her,” the witness testified. “She got out of the truck — she came out swinging — and I defended myself.”

In the midst in the fight with Clark, Plummer testified that she did leave the fight to help Kennedy chase down a man, Billy Lewis, that had arrived with Clark and was leaving the scene.

“When he heard that Larry was on his way, he left and ran down the road,” she said. “Jake and I chased him on the county road to FM 319 and I came back.”

When she returned, the fight between the two women resumed temporarily until Warren arrived on the scene.

“Larry tried to separate us, but Daniel (Plummer) stopped him,” Debra Plummer testified. “We were still fighting when Larry got into his truck and pulled off onto the county road.”

Then, Plummer testified, she heard two shots.

“I went into the house to make sure all the kids were being kept safe,” she testified. “That’s when I heard the third shot.”

Stepping back onto the porch, Debra Plummer said that her husband Daniel met her there and told her that he thought he had just killed Warren.

“We both tried to keep Larry responsive,” she said. “He was telling us to tell the kids that he loved them.

“He asked if Audrey was with another man. Audrey was saying ‘no,’ and I told her to tell him the truth.”

In further testimony, Debra Plummer said that she had not seen anything that had happened between Warren and Kennedy. She also denied any drug-related arrangements between she and Clark to purchase meth, as Clark had testified on Tuesday.

Testimony from a 15-year-old girl at the residence may have been the most incriminating for Warren as the witness reported seeing the defendant shoot Kennedy and seeing Kennedy fall to the ground.

The girl, who was about 12 years old at the time of the shooting, is the daughter of Amber Butler who attended the gathering with her children, friend Robin Honea and Honea’s boyfriend Johnathan Bass.

The girl testified that she witnessed some of the events leading up to the shooting and the shooting itself from a window in the residence and from the home’s front porch.

“Stormey was baby-sitting Audrey’s kids and I was hanging out with her helping her watch the kids while the adults were outside,” she said. “They (the adults outside) were drinking a lot.”

The girl confirmed Lusk’s frustration with Clark, noting that Lusk would go out on the porch frequently to call Clark.

“Stormey and Debra were getting aggravated with Audrey and cussing at her,” she testified. “Audrey showed up. I looked at the window and they (Debra Plummer, Honea and Butler) told her to get out of the car and she wouldn’t.

“They were beating on the truck and Debra threw a cinderblock at the truck,” she testified. “The man (with Clark) got out of the truck and walked up to Daniel, then the man took off running.”

The girl then saw Clark get out of truck and, after a brief conversation among the women, a fight began.

“I think Debra started fighting with her,” the girl said. “Jake was in the yard and followed the man who ran off.”

Soon after, the witness said, Warren arrived at the residence.

“Larry drove up in his truck, got out and started talking to them,” she said. “He got back in the truck, and went to the road.”

At that point the witness was standing on the front porch of the residence. She became very emotional when asked what she saw take place next.

“I saw Larry shoot Jake and I saw Jake fall to his knees,” she testified. “I heard another shot and saw Jake fall — I’m not sure if he fell forwards or backwards. I saw him hit the ground.”

Butler then instructed the girl to go back into the house and get the kids and their things together.

“I didn’t see anything else,” she said. “We threw the kids’ stuff into the diaper bag and loaded up and left.

“We drove by him (Kennedy). I saw him in the road.”

Other highlights of Thursday’s testimony included:

• Wendell Wilcher, who worked as an investigator with the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office at the time of the shooting, was one of the first to arrive at the scene.

He testified to what actions he took at the scene and later in the investigation, also verifying evidence that was gathered at the scene of the shooting.

• Ronnie Foster, an investigator with the ACSO, also shared his role in the investigation and verified the evidence he gathered, including shorts and a T-shirt worn by Warren.

• Chau Nguyen, a forensic serologist with the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Garland, shared the results of her report in looking for blood evidence on items.

Swabs taken from the rifle, a stain from the driveway, tan shoes belonging to Warren and shoes and a baseball cap belonging to Kennedy were just some of the items that tested positive for possible blood.

• Trisha Kacer, a DNA analyst with the DPS Crime Lab in Garland, testified that samples taken from Warren’s truck, rifle and T-shirt all contained DNA consistent with Warren’s.

Samples taken from the driveway of the residence and from the stock of the rifle were consistent with DNA from Audrey Clark. A sample taken from Warren’s shoes tested to be consistent with DNA from Kennedy.

State testimony was scheduled to continue at 8:30 a.m. today in the district courtroom on the second floor of the Anderson County Courthouse. 349th State District Judge Pam Foster Fletcher is presiding over the trial.

Representing the state is Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe with Assistant DA Scott Holden. The defense is represented by Palestine attorney Mark Cargill.

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Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at mrainwater@palestineherald.com