Pressly murder trial -- Monday wrap-up | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pressly murder trial -- Monday wrap-up

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2009 at 7:25 PM

The capital murder trial of Curtis Vance in the slaying of KATV anchor Anne Pressly ran past 7 p.m. tonight as jurors were shown a sometimes rambling 4-hours-plus videotaped statement Vance provided police on Feb. 24.

As seen on the tape: After asking to talk to detectives yet again, Vance initially told them that he'd been in MacArthur Park the night of the Pressly murder, and saw a white person -- he couldn't tell whether the person was male or female, he said -- get out of a blue or black car and dump Pressly's purse and laptop in a trash can. The purse, Vance said, contained $8,000 in cash. After getting Pressly's address off a credit card in the purse, Vance said, he drove by the scene, and saw police there.

Pressed again by LRPD detective J.C. White as to how his DNA ended up at the murder scene, Vance changed his story again, saying that he had entered Pressly's Club Road home with the intention of stealing electronics, but found "a bloodbath" in the bedroom, with Pressly already beaten by the time he came in.

Finally, after two breaks to go smoke and eating a fast food lunch as the interrogation room cameras rolled, Vance finally told detectives what he said was the whole truth. At times, Vance's voice was like that of a man speaking while half awake as he described how he went to Pressly's neighborhood so he could sleep in his car without fear of being robbed. Noticing his gas tank was almost empty, he said he began going into backyards, looking for gas cans in sheds.

While in the back yard of Pressly's home, Vance told detectives, he saw that her back door was "wide open." He admitted he went in, stole a gas card and laptop, then saw Pressly asleep in bed. After stealing a computer from the floor, he said he crawled on top of her.

"I put my weight against her weight," Vance said. Vance said he couldn't focus while trying to subdue Pressly and he didn't penetrate her, but he said he had touched her "inappropriately."

Asked repeatedly by J.C. White to explain why he started hitting Pressly with the "stick" Vance said he brought in from the back yard, Vance seemed reluctant. He described the attack and how it started only in the vaguest of terms: "I lose control, she lose control." Detectives asked if that meant she was trying to get away, and Vance said yes. At that moment, Vance said, he hit her four or five times with what he described as a square stick, two to two-and-a-half feet long, that he said looked like one of the legs from a chair or table. After leaving the house, Vance said, he threw Pressly's purse in the dumpster behind a carwash, disposed of the murder weapon in a nearby ditch, and sold her computer days later to a fence.  

As the tape of Vance's final confession played, many of the jurors, who had been reading along in typed transcripts of the tape, looked intently at the screen prosecutors had wheeled in front of the jury box. One juror wheeled his chair close to the rail.

Near the end of the tape, Vance asked detectives if they could help him get a mental evaluation. He said there had to be something wrong with him. "There's gotta be something," Vance said. "I'm always on the edge. Always aggressive."

Testimony resumes at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow. 

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