BECKLEY, WV (WVNS)– The mother of two of Rashad “Rico” Thompson’s children testified in Raleigh County Circuit Court that Thompson was a good dad and a quiet person who did not raise his voice and did not display anger but who sometimes had “black-out” periods when he consumed alcohol.
Thompson’s former supervisor at a Beckley crafts store also told jurors he was even-tempered and responsible, as defense attorneys began calling witnesses to testify for Thompson, a former all-star Woodrow Wilson High High School basketball player.
Thompson, 36, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, child abuse causing death, malicious wounding and two counts of domestic battery in the March 18, 2021 death of 7-year-old Tre-Shaun Brown and the stabbing of Tre-Shaun’s mother, Felicia Brown.
Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Ben Hatfield presented testimony that Thompson stabbed Brown, the mother of his two-year-old child, multiple times inside her home at Lewis Ritchie Apartments in the early morning hours of March 18, 2021.
When Brown ran next door for help, Hatfield said, Thompson picked up a claw hammer in her apartment and beat to death Brown’s disabled son, Tre-Shaun, who was sleeping on a living room sofa. Thompson was reportedly staying in Brown’s apartment at the time Tre-Shaun was killed.
Karmella S. Wynne, a pharmacy technician who was in a romantic relationship with Thompson for around 13 years, took the stand on Monday, November 7, 2022, for direct questioning by Thompson’s defense attorney, Stanley Selden.
Wynne characterized Thompson, whom she called “Rico,” as a quiet, responsible person. She said he “walked away” during disagreements and did not show anger or raise his voice ever.
When he drank significant amounts of alcohol, she said, he could have “blackout” periods. In the hours following those blackouts, Wynne testified, she had to remind Thompson of his actions.
Thompson and Wynne’s first child was born in March 2006. She said Thompson did not work during her college classes but called often and supported her emotionally during the pregnancy. He worked during summers, she said.
“He always wanted us to visit him at the dorms,” she said. “He always checked on me.”
Wynne said when she moved back to Beckley, she and Thompson saw one another more often. Thompson supported her financially after he left college but did not graduate. The couple did not legally marry but had a second child around 2011.
For the 13 years of their relationship, Wynne testified, Thompson worked several jobs — at UPS, Tamarack, Panera, Hobby Lobby and others.
Wynne, who has a bachelor’s degree, often worked two jobs, she said.
It was important to Thompson that his children take vacations, according to Wynne. She characterized him as a fun dad who spent vacation money on child-friendly places like Great Wolf Lodge in order for his children to have nice lives.
Wynne testified the couple rarely saw one another as they both worked. She said in 2018, Felicia Brown contacted her on Facebook Messenger and notified her that she was eight months pregnant and said Thompson was the father. She also said the two were involved in a romantic relationship.
Wynne testified Thompson arrived home shortly after her Facebook conversation with Brown. She said she was shocked and upset by the situation and tried to talk with Thompson, but he refused to talk. Wynne said she followed him inside her car to try to force him to talk, that she became aggressive and put him in a headlock and that he bit her, left her car and started walking away around Koch Street, with a set of her car keys.
Wynne said she left the relationship because she did not want to be in an unhealthy love triangle.
Thompson then entered a relationship with Brown, she said and began helping to provide care to Browns two children from previous relationships, including Tre-Shaun, and the couple’s daughter.
Eventually, Wynne testified, she was able to encourage her children to have a relationship with Brown’s daughter, their half-sibling.
“I wouldn’t say we had a great thing going on, but it was civil enough to where we all got along,” Wynne said in court.
She testified Thompson was a caregiver for Brown’s two children, including Tre-Shaun, who needed extra attention. Wynne said her children developed a relationship with Tre-Shaun and that her children and Thompson talked with her about the care Thompson provided, although she did not witness Thompson providing care for the victim.
Wynne said Thompson sometimes complained to her about his work schedule, which was 10 to 12 hours each day.
Wynne alleged Brown had worked at a telecommunications company in 2017 but eventually left because Brown and Thompson’s daughter needed attention and because she was fearful West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services would reduce her food stamps and Social Security benefits.
“They’ll cut your benefits as well,” she told jurors. “They’ll take money off if you make so much money.”
Wynne told the defense attorney neither she nor Thompson had ever filed a domestic violence petition but that she called 911 on the day she learned of Brown’s pregnancy, in an effort to get her keys returned.
But Hatfield had Wynne identify a petition filed by Wynne in September 2018, about seven months after the fight over Brown’s pregnancy, in which Wynne had asked law enforcement to address Thompson biting her. On that petition, according to testimony, Wynne had written the incident she described in court had occurred on August 26, 2017.
Hatfield presented another document showing Wynne had dropped the petition several days later.
He suggested it pointed to Wynne’s willingness to use the court system for personal agendas, calling into question her testimony in favor of Thompson.
Hatfield had Wynne admit she did not tell the court in the 2018 petition that she had been the aggressor.
Under cross-examination, Wynne told Hatfield she filed the petition because she still had bitter feelings in September 2018, when Thompson was not offering as much financial support to his children with her.
“When he got with her (Brown), it kind of slowed down. I wasn’t getting the funds I thought my kids should have,” Wynne said. “My kids weren’t getting what they were normally getting, and that wasn’t fair to my kids.”
She said he didn’t refuse to pay child support but added he didn’t provide for his children with her, as he had before he’d impregnated Brown.
Wynne said Brown and Thompson had been planning a joint birthday party in March 2021 for Wynne’s son and Brown’s daughter.
Around nine days after the attacks on Brown and Tre-Shaun, Wynne said, she took her son to the party in Oceana to spend time with Brown’s daughter.
She alleged Brown, who was in attendance, showed no emotion about the events on March 18, 2021.
Thompson’s supervisor at the craft store he worked at, Michelle Dawn Law, testified Thompson was “an excellent employee,” well-liked by other customers and employees.
Law said her son played sports with Wynne’s son and traveled with Thompson and their kids. She said she never saw Thompson become violent.
Law testified Thompson had never been disciplined at work until she disciplined him for taking too many personal calls.
Law said Thompson told her he would ask “her”, whom Law knew to be Brown, to stop calling his job so often.
The trial resumes on Wednesday, November 9.