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Last updated on Tuesday, October 23, 2012
(BLOOMFIELD) - A jury will begin hearing testimony this morning in the murder trial of Randy Knapp, who is accused of murdering Stacey Jo Lawson, of Solsberry, on August 20, 2011.
The prosecution plans to seek a life-without-parole sentence enhancement against Knapp.
Opening arguments before Circuit Judge Erik Allen will begin at 8:30 a.m.
52-year-old Knapp, of Bloomington, is charged with murder and obstruction of justice.
He was arrested less than a week after the body of 28-year-old Lawson was found in a wooded area near the Newark Baptist Church Cemetery.
Police say Lawson was killed after Knapp used a large geode rock that was displayed on Lawson's younger brothers grave and hit her in the head several times.
A geode rock is a hollow rock with sparkling crystals inside and used for decorative purposes. It was displayed on the grave of her younger brother, Brandyn Takoda Scott Beck, 10, of Solsberry. Beck passed away March 4, 2008.
Police say Lawson often visited her brother's grave.
An autopsy performed August 22 by Dr. Roland Kohr at Terre Haute Regional Hospital showed bruising and abrasions on Lawson's back and a deep, open fracture on the left side of her skull.
According to the probable cause affidavit, Lawson left her rural Solsberry residence about 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, and told her boyfriend, Patrick Lewis, that she was going to get some money - a few thousand dollars - from Knapp.
Lawson's mother, Lorie Lawson, told investigators she talked to her daughter about 1-2 p.m. on Aug. 19 and was told "that Randy guy" was going to take her to the former residence of Jeffre Allan Sims, in Bloomfield, to pick up some of her things.
Lawson formerly lived with Sims, who was found dead about two weeks before her death in a room at the Fairfield Inn in Bloomington from an apparent suicide.
Knapp is the boyfriend of Sims' mother.
Knapp, who was a close friend to Sims, allegedly made death threats to several people - including the minister who performed Sims' funeral - M. Aaron Strunk, Jeremy Walker, and Lawson, according to court records.
Det. Dallaire wrote that the motive for the murder appears to be retaliation for what he believed was Lawson's involvement in the death of Sims.
"I believe that Randy Knapp was convinced that Stacey Lawson was involved in the death of her ex-boyfriend Jeffre Alan Sims. It appears Knapp planned to kill Stacey Lawson and enticed her into his vehicle with the promise of money," Dalaire wrote in the probable cause affidavit.
Knapp's arrest was the result of a joint investigation by the Indiana State Police and the Greene County Sheriff's Department.
During an interview with detectives, Knapp denied killing Lawson, but said he did take her to the church cemetery.
According to a probable cause affidavit, police reviewed Knapp's cell phone records and found he was in the vicinity of the church cemetery between 4 and 5 p.m. on Aug. 19. Cell phone records also show that he returned to the cemetery about 1 a.m. on Aug. 20.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks.
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