FORT SMITH, Arkansas — A murder suspect's claim that police threatened to let him die from a gunshot wound unless he confessed to killing a Fort Smith woman is not backed up by a videotape obtained by a newspaper.
The Southwest Times Record reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/1aY1dy1 ) that Elvis Thacker, 25, can be heard on the tape offering to talk to police if they summoned an ambulance. The videotape did not record anyone threatening to not summon aid.
Thacker and his brother, Johnathen Don James Edward Thacker, 24, of Cedarville, were charged with first-degree murder and forcible sodomy in Oklahoma in the death of Briana Jane Ault, 22, of Fort Smith. Her body was found in a pond at Pocola, Oklahoma, on Sept. 13, 2010. Her throat had been cut.
The Thackers were arrested two days after the body was found. During a scuffle, police said, Elvis Thacker stabbed an officer and was subsequently shot. Officers said that before Elvis Thacker was taken to a hospital, he told police that he had killed Ault.
Defense lawyer Gretchen Mosley, who has asked an Oklahoma judge to suppress Elvis Thacker's confession, said investigators "sanitized" video from their files before turning it over, and Thacker testified that he confessed to Ault's killing only because police told him they would let him die if he didn't.
The Thackers' arrest was videotaped by two cameras. A production company that makes police videos was with Officer Eric Williams, who responded to Thacker's apartment after Thacker was shot. Williams was also wearing a camera on his uniform.
The newspaper reported that from the time Williams arrived, no one is heard threatening Elvis Thacker. At one point, Elvis Thacker said he'd tell officers what they wanted to know if they got him to the hospital, and he was told an ambulance was on the way. What he then said in response is inaudible.
Elvis Thacker was encouraged to confess in case he died before he made it to the hospital; other officers told him to breathe, hold on and hang in there and assured him an ambulance was on the way.
Fort Smith police Sgt. Daniel Grubbs said the Williams video wasn't provided earlier to the defense because it wasn't part of the original investigation. He said it was only used to determine whether officers acted properly at the scene of the arrest.
Elvis Thacker is set for arraignment Dec. 4. Johnathen Thacker's trial has been delayed.
Prosecutors have said they will seek Johnathen Thacker's execution and made a decision later on Elvis Thacker.
The Thackers had previously been convicted in Arkansas on unrelated crimes.
Information from: Southwest Times Record, http://www.swtimes.com/