BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) –Testimony in the trial of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend’s 7-year-old son ended on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, in Raleigh County Circuit Court.
Rashad “Rico” Thompson, 36, is on trial for first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, and domestic battery in the March 18, 2021, death of Tre-Shaun Brown, a disabled child who was beaten to death with a hammer while he slept.
He is also charged with attempted murder, malicious wounding, and domestic battery for allegedly stabbing 26-year-old Felicia Brown, Tre-Shaun’s mother.
Brown and other witnesses testified Thompson was in a romantic relationship with Brown and that the two had a child together in March 2018.
The defense rested on Wednesday, after two days of favorable testimony from witnesses who described Thompson, a former all-star basketball player at Woodrow Wilson High School, as even-tempered, quiet, a hard worker, and a good father to his two children with a former fiancé, Karmella Wynne.
Thompson did not take the stand.
Before resting their case, defense attorneys called two witnesses in an effort to contradict testimony from Rose Scalf, a neighbor who had provided help to Brown right after she was stabbed and who entered Brown’s apartment and brought out her young child, according to testimony during the trial.
Scalf had told police she entered the apartment and got the child and then returned for Tre-Shaun. She said when she entered the apartment, she witnessed Thompson making motions as if he were striking an object, although she could not see what he was striking.
Police found Tre-Shaun’s body on a living room sofa, where he had fallen asleep, according to testimony earlier in the trial.
But another neighbor, Ashley Mullens, told jurors on Wednesday that she was awakened in the early hours of March 18, 2021, by a woman shouting for someone to call 911.
Mullens, who testified for the defense, said she called 911 and then outside in the apartment complex, where she saw Scalf’s apartment was well-lit.
Brown’s apartment was dark, Mullens testified.
Mullens testified Scalf motioned for her not to come closer, so she did not approach the apartment.
Mullens testified that in the days following Tre-Shaun’s murder, Scalf had indicated she believed Brown had “something to do” with Tre-Shaun’s death.
In cross-examination by Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield, Mullens admitted Scalf had provided no evidence to support a theory that Brown had harmed a child. She also testified that Thompson was generally well-liked in the public housing complex.
A private investigator, Chad Jones, also testified he interviewed Scalf to collect information for the defense. Jones testified Scalf told him Brown had been intoxicated and cursing immediately after she was stabbed and that Brown’s apartment was dark when she entered it in order to rescue Brown’s toddler daughter.
Under cross-examination by Hatfield, Jones said he had taken notes but did not record the interview with Scalf.
Selden wanted jurors to be able to consider manslaughter in Tre-Shaun’s death. He argued Brown had provoked Thompson into a “sudden flaring of his temper,” which was possibly directed at both Brown and Tre-Shaun.
Kirkpatrick sided with Hatfield, who said a seven-year-old child cannot adequately provoke an adult to meet the legal standard for manslaughter.
Kirkpatrick granted Selden’s request to separate the trial and the mercy phase of sentencing, in the case of Thompson’s conviction.
Selden said witnesses had testified positively about Thompson’s character, which could be a consideration for mercy.
Attorneys are expected to make closing arguments on Thursday, November 10, 2022, and jurors will then begin deliberations.
Kirkpatrick dismissed jurors after 4 p.m. on Wednesday because one juror reported a fire on his property at home.