by Max Brantley
TRIAL CONTINUES: Curtis Vance enters courthouse today.
The capital murder trial of Curtis Vance for the 2008 slaying of KATV anchor Anne Pressly continued this morning with testimony from Little Rock police detective J.C. White about a three-hour session with Vance after he was arrested Nov. 26.
The session wasn't recorded, but White testified to his recollection of the session, in which Vance gave a series of three evolving statements. The detective said Vance provided details that corresponded to evidence in the case.
Vance initially said he had nothing to do with the crime.
Then, in a second statement, he said he went to Pressly's home, but she wasn't there. He said he pried open a back door and stole a laptop. After being told his DNA had been found at the scene, he said that Pressly was there. He said he saw her lying naked in the bed with her dogs, but denied assaulting her.
In a third statement, Vance went further. He said he took a weapon, a wood-handled tool, into the house. He said he took a yellow purse and laptop outside to his car, then went back inside the house to take a credit card. He said he saw Pressly naked on the bed and took his penis out. The dogs began barking. That, he told the detective, awoke Pressly. She was startled and began fighting with him. He fought back. He said he feared she'd seen him. Vance later told White he'd thrown the tool into the Arkansas River as he drove to his brother's house in North Little Rock.
Vance said he left the house, drove to I-630 and then on to I-30, where he stopped at a Shell service station at Ninth Street, using Pressly's credit card to buy fuel. He said he backed up to leave the station because he didn't want to drive by a police car nearby. This was a detail that squared, the detective said, with a security camera video taken at the station.
Defense lawyer Katherine Streett asked why White didn't record the interview. White said he doesn't record statements initially because he doesn't want to have to start and stop tapes. He said Vance had also asked not to have the statement recorded.
Streett asked about inconsistencies in the statements, for example Vance saying he'd pried open the back door. No signs of forced entry were found. Also, Pressly, described as naked, was found with a T-shirt on. Vance also told White about throwing a purse in a neighbor's yard, but no purse was found, or anything else taken from the house.
Streett's questioning was aimed at showing that Vance could have known details about Pressly's house, car and injuries because of media reporting.
White said certain details were never mentioned to the press, including the missing laptop that Vance mentioned. But White acknowledged that police had provided some key details to Vance himself during the questioining, including the discovery of DNA evidence. It's a technique to let suspects know police know more than suspects might believe. He said, however, that Vance's description of a shed in the backyard of the house, the color of Pressly's car and the laptop were details not publicly known.
Later this morning, the jury will hear a tape-recorded statement Vance gave to police Dec. 10 after asking to meet with police while in the county jail.
Before a break for lunch about , jurors heard an audio tape of Vance Dec. 10. It had been played in court previously, during a hearing on a defense effort to suppress his statements. In it, Vance claimed to have two accomplices the night of Pressly’s beating. They were seeking houses to burglarize for TVs and computers.
He said the three of them used socks from a pack of dirty clothes in his car as gloves. In this account, Vance took a stolen computer to his car, then encountered the two accomplices leaving the house saying, “we gotta go, we gotta go.” He learned later, he claimed, that one of the two had hit Pressly in the face with an iron pipe.
Detectives then asked how Vance's semen was found at the crime scene. He explained it came from using the sock for cleanup after he’d had oral sex some time previously with a prostitute.
During this statement, Vance claimed he was hit by an arresting officer in November. He also made a statement offering an alibi for the rape charge he faces in Marianna. He claimed the school teacher had been paying him to have sex and complained after he stopped. (She has said she couldn't identify her attacker.)
Police said one of the men identified as an accomplice by Vance was questioned by police, though not charged in the case. Defense lawyers brought out that a DNA sample taken from him wasn’t tested by the state Crime Lab.
A videotaped statement from Vance is expected after the lunch break. In it, Vance will exonerate his supposed accomplices.