Forensics evidence tops sixth day of murder trial
by David Lazenby
Oct 25, 2011 | 2356 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Cordova man who was allegedly the last person to see Michael Crumpton alive testified Monday in the sixth day of the capital murder trial of Clayton Antwain Shanklin.

While on the witness stand Monday, Steve Madison, Crumpton’s neighbor at Warrior River Apartments in Cordova, where Crumpton was killed on Oct. 12, 2009 after he was shot four times, said he was with Crumpton when the 21-year-old took his last breath.

Madison said he urged Crumpton to “hang on” after finding his friend slumped over the arm of a couch in his ground-floor apartment. Madison testified that Crumpton could not communicate, but was able to hold eye contact with Madison.

After Crumpton stopped breathing, Madison said he attempted to perform CPR.

Madison also talked about what he witnessed on that early October morning when he heard four shots fired near the apartment complex.

Madison also testified that he saw Crumpton’s oldest daughter standing in a hallway when he went to help Crumpton after retrieving a pistol from his upstairs apartment.

Madison said he did not see Crumpton’s wife, Ashley, who had reportedly gone to the apartment of Karen Wilson to get help. Ashley Crumpton was shot in the leg during the incident.

Shanklin’s attorney, Nath Camp, reminded Madison what he told police two years ago regarding a “light-skinned black man” Madison claimed he saw at the scene of the crime. Camp said Madison told authorities the man he saw was 5-foot-10 or 5-foot-11.

During previous cross-examination of another witness last week, Camp revealed his client is about 5-foot-7.

On Friday, another Warrior River Apartments resident, Robert Jones, testified that he saw two people wearing dark clothes, possibly hooded sweatshirts, entering the Crumpton's apartment in the early morning hours of Oct. 12.

Jones said he too heard a gunshot during the incident.

Shanklin, who is charged with first-degree capital murder during a robbery, first-degree capital murder during a burglary and attempted murder, could face the death penalty if convicted.

Also on Monday, several officials with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences testified about DNA evidence collected from the Crumptons’ apartment, ballistics evidence and the details on the exact cause of Michael Crumpton’s death.

Torey Williams, a forensics biologist, testified that all the tested blood samples from the crime scene were linked by DNA evidence to Michael Crumpton. She added that not all of the evidence with a “presumptive presence of blood” were DNA tested in an effort to avoid redundancy. However, Williams pointed out all the items are preserved so that they may be tested if deemed necessary.

Camp objected to prosecutors entering as evidence a hair found at the crime scene that Williams said belonged to Kevin Shanklin, the co-defendant in the case who is expected to be tried in February.

“Kevin Shanklin is not on trial in this case,” Camp said about Clayton Antwain Shanklin’s cousin.

The objection was overruled by Circuit Court Judge Doug Farris, who is hearing the case in his courtroom at the Walker County Courthouse annex.

The Shanklins allegedly went to the Crumptons’ home on Oct. 12, 2009 to rob them of cash and marijuana when the shootings ocurred. Tracy Lynn Ward, who pleaded guilty to murder for her involvment in Crumpton’s death, testified on Wednesday that she regularly purchased marijuana from Michael Crumpton.

The testimony of Emily Ward, a state medical examiner, concluded Monday’s day of testimony. Ward said she believes Michael Crumpton suffered a “slow, agonizing death” in which he was fully conscious of his surroundings. “I think he had a lot of agony,” she added.

Ward denied Camp’s suggestion that the discussion about Crumpton’s final moments are purely speculation.

In regard to whether Crumpton suffered at the end of his life, Ward said for her, there was “no doubt at all.”

Clayton Antwain Shanklin’s murder trial will resume at 8 a.m. today in Farris’ courtroom in the Walker County Courthouse annex.