by Max Brantley
David Koon will be back in Circuit Court today for the third day of the unusually lengthy hearing on defense efforts to suppress statements Curtis Vance gave police after his arrest in the slaying of KATV anchor Anne Pressly.
David rounded up thoughts on yesterday's hearing this way:
Watching Curtis Vance confess to the murder of KATV anchor Anne Pressly over the course of two days was something like watching brain surgery performed without cracking the skull.
On day two of Vance's suppression hearing before Judge Chris Piazza, the tapes of Vance's conversations with Little Rock Police detectives rolled on. The session ended yesterday with Vance spinning a tale that two of his acquaintences -- one from Marianna and another from Little Rock -- had accompanied him to Anne Pressly's home in The Heights with the intention of stealing electronics equipment. One of those men, Vance told detectives, had bludgeoned Pressly while Vance was outside, putting a laptop in the getaway car.
The second taped interview with police, taken on February 24 at Vance's request and this time on video, saw Vance go through a series of linguistic and mental gymnastics as he tried to explain to detectives J.C. White and Kevin Simpson how his seminal fluids got on Anne Pressly's bed and body. Vance started the tape explaining that he'd been in MacArthur Park on October 19, and had witnessed a white person -- he couldn't say whether they were male or female -- dumping Pressly's bloody purse and laptop into a garbage can. The purse, Vance said, contained a white envelope filled with $8,000 in cash. How then, detectives asked him, had his DNA ended up on Pressly's body? Later in the interview, Vance said that he had gone to Pressly's house to rob it, and found Pressly's bloodied body on the bed when he got inside.
More than four hours later -- after he had all but begged to be allowed to take a smoke break and had eaten a fast food cheeseburger and a Coke while the video tape rolled -- Vance finally confessed to what he said was the complete truth about the incident:
Vance said he had come to Little Rock from Marianna the previous Thursday with the intent of going out with friends to rob houses, but they told him they didn't want his help. Angry and broke by October 19, Vance said he drove his Monte Carlo to The Heights neighborhood so he could sleep in his car there without fear of being robbed in the night. Seeing that he was almost out of gas, Vance told detectives, he began sneaking through backyards, looking for cans of gasoline in storage sheds. When he went to the storage shed behind Pressly's house, Vance said, he noticed that Pressly's back door was standing open, blocked only by the storm door. From near the shed, Vance retrieved what he called a "stick," which he described as two feet long and square like one of the legs on the interrogation table (detectives repeatedly questioned Vance about the object used to strike Pressly, saying that the Medical Examiner's examination of her injures showed that they couldn't have been inflicted with the weapon Vance described). Vance said he took this stick with him as he approached the open door. Haltingly, sometimes almost robotically, Vance then described how he went inside the house, and stole Pressly's purse and laptop. Then he saw Pressly in the bed.
"On my way in the room, I saw the victim lying there," Vance told detectives. "I had forced her against her will to have sexual relations." Later in his statement to police, Vance insisted that he never actually penetrated Pressly with his penis because he couldn't get erect. He said he'd only touched her vagina with his hand. He suggested that the semen found on her body was possibly from a prior sexual encounter he'd had, and that the semen had gotten on his hand while he used Pressly's bathroom.
Vance's description of the events inside Anne Pressly's bedroom is cloudy. Once, Vance said that she didn't fight him, and that he couldn't quite explain to detectives why he began hitting her. In another description of the event, Vance said that once he climbed on top of her as she lay in bed, things "got out of hand" and Pressly began struggling with him. Whatever the case, Anne Pressly's injuries -- described briefly by detectives during the course of their interrogation of Curtis Vance -- were horrific.
Fleeing the house, Vance said he dumped Pressly's purse and his bloodly clothing in the dumpster behind a car wash on Asher Avenue, and threw the stick into the bushes across the street. From there, he gassed up his Monte Carlo at an all night filling station at 9th Street and I-30 using Pressly's credit card. Later, he said, he sold Pressly's computer to a fence in Southwest Little Rock.
After his confession was done, detectives asked Curtis Vance why he'd done what he did. Why he didn't just take the laptop and the purse and leave. He didn't have much of an explanation for that either. Saying more than once "I'm not a killer," Vance seemed to plead with detectives to see that about him, telling them that he often helped those who needed his help, and tried to provide for his family. Before last year, he said. "I tried to stay away from (crime), but in 2008, I don't know what came over me... I messed up."
Vance's supression hearing continues tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., with defense attorneys continuing their efforts to show that detectives improperly obtained the confessions from Vance.