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Mistrial Denied In Knapp Murder Trial - Testimony Continues Today

Last updated on Monday, October 29, 2012

(BLOOMFIELD) - A motion by the defense for a mistrial in the felony murder trial of Randy L. Knapp was denied Friday morning.

Sabrina Westfall of the Greene County Daily World reports that Knapp, of Bloomington, is accused of murdering Stacey Lawson Aug. 19, 2011 at Newark Cemetery in Eastern Greene County.

The motion was requested after State's witness Jeremy Walker made a statement regarding a phone conversation with Knapp the night Lawson was murdered.

"We would like to request a mistrial based on the witness testimony in regards to Miss Lawson being placed on the phone and hearing the moans and sounds of who he believed to be was Miss Lawson," defense co-counsel David Hunter said.

Walker told the court Knapp had attempted to call his cell phone around 4:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, but there was poor reception at his current residence so he called Knapp's cell phone from his home phone.

Walker noted he was waiting for Knapp to stop by his residence to sell him Xanax.
"He told me, 'You'll never guess who I've got with me'," Walker said Knapp informed him when they talked on the phone.

When Walker asked who, Knapp allegedly told him it was the blonde Jeffre Alan Sims had dated, referring to Lawson, at Newark Cemetery.

Sims had died two weeks prior to Lawson's murder from an apparent suicide. Walker said Knapp had made it clean on several occasions he blamed Stacey for Sims' death.
"He (Knapp) wanted to confront her (Lawson) about Alan's death. The night Alan shot himself he and Stacey were arguing on the phone when I dropped him off," Walker added.

Walker said during the short conversation on the phone Aug. 19 he heard Knapp tell Lawson to speak, "and I thought I heard her moan and he said she can't talk because she is choking."

Greene Circuit Judge Erik Allen denied the motion, noting the defense could either strike the comment from the record and admonish the jury or use in cross-examination.
The defense noted during the cross-exam the issue with the statement was it was not until a month ago - more than a year after the murder - Walker mentioned hearing the moan.

"I didn't want to talk about it (the conversation) and I'm still not comfortable talking about it. I guess I made a mistake by not telling law enforcement," Walker said. "I can't say 100 percent it was Stacey I heard."

Walker told investigators he spoke with Knapp several times throughout the course of Friday, Aug. 19, but did not call authorities because he did not believe Knapp had actually murdered Lawson.

"I didn't believe him at first. I didn't want to believe him. I talked to him over a day or two period and he was doing a lot of drugs and saying a lot of stuff," Walker said.

He added he was heavily involved with opiates and benzodiazepines during the course of the investigation, but has been sober since February of this year.

On Monday, Aug. 22, when Walker was confronted by police, he told them about the conversations with Knapp on Friday and that Knapp had came by his residence to drop off the Xanax between 9 and 10 p.m.

Walker noted to the defense he did not notice any blood or mud on Knapp's person or in the black Ford Taurus he had been driving.

It was not until several days later Walker realized he had a series of voicemails on his cell phone from Knapp, four of which were left Friday, Aug. 19.

Walker noted he had poor reception on his phone at the apartment he was living so it was several days before he noticed the voicemails.

The voicemails were played to the jury Friday morning, and a transcript was provided to the jury because Walker said Knapp was hard to understand.

During several of the voicemails Knapp referred to himself as being in a "meth rage" and "raged and crazed".

Knapp also noted in the voicemails it was unfair he had not been invited to Sims' funeral.

He also said in the messages, "It's all coming together and it is going to be fun when it is over ... I don't care if I'm in jail or prison..."

Former Criminal Investigator for the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office, Alan McBride, took the stand Friday to discuss his findings in the voicemails left on Walker's cell phone.

McBride told the court he specialized in cell phone forensics, cell phone technology and cell phone mapping during his time at the prosecutor's office.

He noted each cell phone was different, but with each voicemail box there is an option called "envelope information".

The envelope information retrieves the time, date, length of message and the caller's voicemail box message.

"In this case I was able to copy and duplicate the grabbed outgoing message of the caller," McBride noted.

County Prosecutor Jarrod Holtsclaw clarified with McBride the message left on Walker's voicemail stating, "I'm going to see (her) right now and I might beat her brains out," was left Friday, Aug. 19 at 3:14 p.m.

The trial will continue this morning.

Holtsclaw said Friday morning, depending on the number of witnesses the defense calls, the trial should continue throughout the week.

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