A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.
Wed, 17 Mar 2021 07:00
A man murdered inside his own home. Would an everyday hand towel be the thing that helps police finally answer the question: was this a robbery gone wrong or something much more personal? For episode information and photos, please visit https://anatomyofmurder.com/
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Grab your copy of all good people here now, wherever books are sold. You have any idea why we're up here to talk with you about the murder of this guy? Oh, I don't know this place. I don't know the guy. How many years have you lived with this? Yes, it's almost been what, for 30 years? So did you doubt the guy? And if you did, tell us. I'm Scott Weinberger's, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Classie former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction, and this is anatomy of murder. Hey guys, before we get started today you can keep up with what we are doing and a little bit more about AOM by following us on social media, Instagram, at Weinberger Media, for me at Anna Sigga Nicolazzi. We're also on Facebook, Twitter and the other social platforms too. Today's case would eventually fall into the capable hands of veteran homicide prosecutor Denise Yokum, and she detailed the facts and what would be a difficult road to justice. We're going back for this case to 1985 to Montclair, CA. For those of you not familiar with Montclair, it is a small city that is suburban. It is made-up of mostly apartments and single story residences. It's pretty close to LA, closer to a small city. Pomona has a higher crime rate than Montclair, but it is the city right next door to Montclair. So when people think of Montclair, well, it's a great place to raise a family, and people don't really associate a lot of crime with Montclair. Warren Thompson is 50 years old, married with two children. His wife Hazel, his son Val, 20, and his daughter Wendy was 12 years old. They were living together in an apartment in the city of Montclair, A2 story apt. #13 Val, the oldest, was living part time with the grandparents in a nearby city, but they seem to be a very close family. Warren Thompson was suffering with a lot of different health issues, forcing him out of full-time employment. He was known to collect scrap metal with his friends as a side job and then sell it to help support his family. He was described as a man who sometimes had few words, but the words that he had were gentle. Everyone described Warren Thompson as a giving man, a man a few words, but a man who would show his love for his family and friends by acts of kindness. In April of 1985, Warren Thompson had been really ill and to the point where his wife Hazel was afraid to leave his side. On this particular night, April 12th, Warren begged Hazel not to leave him alone. Hazel told him. I really need a break. I just want to take our daughter Wendy. To the pastors house so she can be with her youth group and I want to go bowling with my friends. So Hazel took Wendy and they left together. Val came by the apartment to talk to his dad. And said, hey, have mom give me a call when she gets home. Val says his dad was sitting on a couch, watching TV and drinking beer alone. Hazel and Wendy returned home around 1:00, o'clock in the morning and walked into a brutal crime scene. The Thompsons lived in APT 13, and Warren Thompson's body was found dead on April 13. Every drawer had been open and dumped, every light and every bedroom was on. It was a disaster. The only room where the light wasn't on was the kitchen. Windy, 12 years old at the time, walked into the kitchen, turned the light on and found her dad. Laying face down in a pool of blood, with his head pointed to the wall, the refrigerator to his left and the kitchen counter to the right, he had nowhere to go. Hazel ran up to her daughter. And saw her husband laying there in the pool of blood, face down, with stab wounds across his back and his neck. Within minutes, Hazel will dial 911 and Montclair police officers were at APT 13, and they would discover that, in fact, the crime scene was extremely gruesome. They described Hazel and Wendy as being very emotional, crying, distraught. Police arrived. They find Warren Thompson's face down and when police look more closely. He has 29 stab wounds to his back and to his neck. So the best way for me to describe it is through the eyes of the crime scene detective in a detailed report. And I'm going to paraphrase the way he described it and it'll paint this gruesome picture. A couple of the highlights were saw, the house was disheveled, somebody was looking for stuff. The victim was in a pool of blood lying on his stomach. And he went on to detail that inside the kitchen, bought on the wall, on the refrigerator and in the sink. And it also within the report, he talks about the time that the medical examiner arrived and they turned over the. Body they fully determined he'd been stabbed 29 times and the wound so deep they quickly estimated that the knife was likely 10 to 12 inches in length. As the police started to collect their evidence, they look for anything that stood out to them. They started to collect objects that maybe would provide some leads, hopefully down the road or even sometime that next day. Inside the apartment in the living room, a detective found a white and turquoise washcloth that had blood on it. They took photographs of the different items, and then they began what they normally do, which is speak to people close by. The police began canvassing the entire apartment complex. They interviewed 15 people and no one heard anything and no one saw anything. So you have to now look at the crime scene and see what it says. Detectives spoke to Hazel and found out that money was missing. Prescription drugs were missing. A silverware set was missing. A VCR was missing. Burglary may have been a really quick, early motive to me. That theory quickly turned to somebody he knew. If someone wanted to kill someone and get away, they might stab him a few times. But 29 stab wounds meant to me this person wanted Warren dead and they were angry at him. And when we look at stab wounds, for all of you out there, you know it's a very different type of crime than a shooting. Both caused the same results, but one, you know, you can fire a gun and there isn't that personal element. You take an object, you pull the trigger, and boom, someone can be dead. A stab wound to stab someone. You are usually within feet and then inches of that person as you are literally taking the life from them with your hands. And when you have a number of stab wounds, it usually speaks to two things. Either one, there is something very personal in the motivation. There is some sort of rage motivating it, or you sometimes have these frenzied attacks caused by some other factor, whether it is drug fueled or alcohol fueled, something that kind of leads into someone else's intent and we end up with this incredibly gruesome result. The murder weapon was not there. Her husband had been a chef in the past and was very particular about his knives, and she knew there was a full set of knives and one was missing. And she returned to her apartment, and while the murder weapon was never located, they theorized that the killer tried to wash his hands, grabbing that towel to possibly dry his hands. And they also believe that the knife may have slipped and the suspect may have also been cut pretty bad now that bloody towel, investigators knew, had the suspect's blood on it, and they knew it was going to be a crucial piece of evidence and anesthesia. We always talk about how somebody involved in a brutal stabbing. Usually finds themselves getting cut. In 1985, DNA testing had not developed yet. So if someone out there is thinking, oh great, they're going to get them, they've got the blood, not so fast. So while they knew that that was important, critical, as Scott pointed out, it may not get them very far, at least not them. But they did find out a couple of things, two males that had been inside Warren's apartment delivering furniture that Warren had bought from another tenant. So police had to wonder, well, could these guys have now taken the opportunity to now? Come back and rob. When they somehow knew that Warren was alone, there was no forced entry into that apartment, the landlord said. It was not unusual for Warren to leave his door somewhat open and unlocked. So they're really come down to two main avenues that police have to focus on. They know that Warren is stabbed multiple, multiple times, and stab wounds often do suggest a rage killing. But there also was so much evidence of robbery here. And while robberies, when those end up in homicide, you don't usually also have such rage coupled with that. But then police quickly turned to something that led them to believe that this just might be someone that Warren knew quite well. His name was Michael Bell. How was a 20 year old guy who they knew? Because he knew Wendy, who was 12 and he came up very quickly because Hazel said this was a guy that Warren had a big problem with. He was very upset at his daughter Wendy. She had a 20 year old man hanging around her and he confronted that man and told him to leave his daughter alone when police looked at Michael Bell a bit more closely. Something they found was that he had a recent run in with the law, and it's probably nothing like what you might expect. Most of you probably know that I love a good mystery, and playing games on my phone is sometimes exactly what I need when I'm taking a break from work. Enter June's journey. It's a hidden object murder mystery game set in the heart of the 1920s. You search for hidden objects and collect clues across thousands of vivid scenes to help June. She investigates the mysterious death of her sister with new chapters every week. There is always a new case waiting to be cracked. You can chat and play with or against other players by joining a detective club. Now celebrate the game's fifth anniversary with a two week birthday Bash, June's journey Golden Soiree. Exciting surprises await in June's journey every single day during the 5th anniversary celebration from September 19th to October 2nd, including special events. Daily rewards and unique decoration items followed the official Junes journey Facebook page and become an e-mail subscriber for even more perks, including a chance to win one of just 10 gold plated charm bracelets. Join the 5th Anniversary party now through October 2nd. Download June's journey for free, available on Android and iOS mobile devices as well as on PC through Facebook games. In the weeks leading up to his murder, Warren Thompson had serious concerns about his 12 year old daughter hanging out with a 20 year old man named Michael Bell. He was 20 years old and trying to hang around a 12 year old. It was weird. Why? Why is this 20 year old hanging around a 12 year old? Investigators felt like this was a solid lead and they began looking into Michael Bell only to learn he did have a criminal history. Michael Bell had been arrested for burglarizing Windy School. Now, while that's far from a smoking gun for a murder, it's more reason to question him about that confrontation with the victim and any connection he may have with the 12 year old daughter of Warren Thompson. And police, they interviewed Warren's daughter and Wendy said, look, I do know him, but there's nothing going on between us. But that doesn't make my dad feel any better, that he had been very angry that this 20 year old guy was hanging around me and it was a big deal to him. So that all went into police calculation that this just might be someone they had to look at much, much more closely. He was adamant that he did not have an inappropriate relationship with Wendy and that they were just friends. He said he did not murder warrant. So at this point, there really wasn't any more evidence to proceed with the Michael Bell angle. And, you know, once you collect all your evidence and you canvas for witnesses, the outline of a puzzle begins. But the key is to fill in as many pieces as quickly as possible. And here it really factors in when this murder occurred. We're talking 1985. I mean, it's not like today, Scott. You know, you would send that cloth, the different piece of evidence they collected, and you would send it right off to the lab to be typed and to see if you get any DNA back. But this was 1985. They really had to rely on knocking on doors and doing interviews, and at the end of the day, Michael Bell was looking like he just might be more than just someone they knew. But that doesn't get you into a courtroom, so they really had to keep going and to see if they could find anything else. In this case, detectives in 1985 sent out a teletype asking other police departments to be on the lookout for the missing items from Warren and Hazel's apartment. It's an opportunity for homicide detectives to work along with burglary detectives because those are the detectives that have those great contacts at pawnshops and pawn shops are the places where items like these sometimes end up. And when you go to a pawn shop and you want to pawn something and exchange it for cash, you've got to provide them with identification. And I can't tell you how many cases are solved just on that fact where an item from a homicide scene. Ends up in a pawn shop and they connect the person who's bringing the item with the person who was involved in the murder case. They also went the way of making anonymous tip lines with their reward, and that can cut both ways. But certainly they hope initially that it gives incentive to give at least police information and then for them to get a lead. That was it. That's all the police had, was the potential missing items. And maybe they would be found and that would lead them to more interviews to find out who murdered Warren. We do have a prime suspect, but we can't place them in the apartment or really call them anything else except for a suspect in the case. We do have blood evidence, but it's 1985, so as they're preserving this evidence and as they're running out of leaves and information, the case went cold. And we see this very often in homicide investigation. There's a lot of pressure to find justice for this family. They have been grieving and waiting for years. So now we're going to Fast forward not a week, not a month, but a year. We're going to jump by the decade. We're going to go from 85 to 95 to 2005 to 2722 years later. July of 2007, Detective Cervantes he was assigned to review the unsolved murders. DNA had been used to solve other cases in the county. Detectives know that in this file, in this cold case box, they have information about blood evidence that's located inside Warren Thompson's apartment on a dish towel. And so they check it, they run it, and the first person they compare it to is who? It's obviously Warren, the victim in this case, to make sure it's not his, because if it's his, well, then it's unfortunate that it's his blood, but it's not going to further the investigation. So they check it against Warren. No match Step 2. Now they go to the movers. Dwayne Longino was one of the furniture guys and they were able to eliminate him as a suspect through DNA from the turquoise and white hantel. So now they check it against Michael Bell. In 2007, Detective Cervantes obtained a DNA sample from Michael Bell. Here's the guy that you believe had this confrontation with our victim just a short time before the murder occurred, so it's likely that Michael Bell had an involvement. The DNA came back. And it was not a match. Michael Bell was excluded. So now let's Fast forward again another seven years to 2014. 29 years later, a call came to Cold Case Detective Raul Perez of Montclair Police Department, and it was the type of call any member of law enforcement just loves to get right. A positive DNA hit in CODIS on a very cold case. That was the first time I'd learned about this case. Once I got the phone call from Montclair Police Department that they had the DNA hit, I asked them to come meet with me so we could sit down, go through the case together, review all of the evidence. And look at who this suspect was. And so now they had a name we already know it's not going to be one of the movers. We know it's not Michael Bell, but it was a name none of them had heard before. James wilcoxson. Sims Wilcoxen in 2014 was found to be a homeless man living in San Jose. He also had his DNA put in the system because he had been convicted of a voluntary manslaughter in 1988. So from this towel, the ordinary turquoise and white hand towel, they had various cuttings. So normally what happens when they have a piece of evidence like that, a piece of clothing or a towel or something like this, this hand towel, they literally cut it. So they call it the cuttings. And they just take those small samples from specific cuttings and they can start to categorize them and catalog them one from the other. And they did that with three different cuttings here and they got matches on three of those. Cuttings and the first one sounds pretty good in and of itself. It said that the DNA profile would be found in one in 970,000 African Americans, one in 240,000 Caucasians, and James Wilcoxson, for all of you out there, was a Caucasian or is a Caucasian male and one in 990,000 Hispanics. Well, that sounds pretty good right there, but it blows you away when you hear the bigger matches. And what they had. In this case, by the 3rd cutting was the profile. The match would only be found in 120 billion. African Americans, one in 5.1 billion Caucasians, and that's the Ding, Ding, Ding number right there. Because remember, he's Caucasian and one in 32 billion Hispanics. I mean, we are talking one in almost as many people that are on the planet. So when you talk about why people rely so much on DNA evidence, well, that's your answer in part right there. Powerful evidence. There needs to be more connection with the victim and more connection to the actual crime. They look back to see if. James wilcoxson. Had access to the victim just because we had DNA wasn't going to be enough. We had to show he was around in the area. One of the things we asked the detectives to do is get all the police reports of any crime the suspect has been involved in so we can develop an idea of the kind of life the suspect has been leading and what type of people does he victimized. We started looking at his movements and we found out he had been arrested for robbery in the next city over in 1987, and he had used a knife in both robberies, and his goal was to take money from these businesses. When the police reviewed his criminal history, they realized he had been near Montclair during the time of Warren's murder. He'd committed crimes in the next city over from Montclair. A city called Pomona. So now it came time to find James Wilcoxson, and that would be a challenge. How do you find a transient, someone who doesn't have a permanent home who you can't even place where he'd last been? So now police, all these years later in 2014, employed new technology that, at least to police in 1985, would never even have dreamed of. So the hunt for James Wilcox and our prime suspect is fully underway. And when Detective Raul Perez from the Montclair Police Department reached out to San Jose Police Department because that's where they believe he may be located, one of their detectives at San Jose decided to use social media, specifically Facebook. They gain leads on the whereabouts of a very transient prime suspect. We found out he was in San Jose. We got in contact with the local Police Department and told them we had a Ramey warrant for his arrest. A Ramey warrant is an arrest warrant issued by a judge or magistrate before the prosecutor has actually filed formal charges. It's a way to ensure that you can hold the person, the suspect if you will, before actual charges have been filed. From the prosecutors standpoint, we know we're only going to have one shot at getting an interview with the defendant. He has lived this lie for so many years that he actually believes whatever it is he's going to tell us. And the reason that one shot is so important is that, yeah, you have wilcoxen's DNA inside Warren Thompson's apartment, but that is it. I mean, that doesn't get you into a courtroom. And So what they're hoping is that he says something that delivers them across that line. We want to make him comfortable. We want him to open up and talk to us. So we let him know he can end this interview whenever he wants, the doors open. He can leave. He didn't. So you're about to hear portions of the interview where early on, Wilcoxen, who was shown photos of the victim, Warren Thompson, completely denies knowing the victim or ever being in that apartment. Police were to tell you that guy's dead. Or short hair. Have I ever seen before? Any idea how he died? No. You don't have any idea why we're up here to talk with you about the murder of this guy? Oh, I don't know the place. I don't know the guy. Never seen the interior of this guy's house. Pictures that I showed you, then looked them over, right? And so he doesn't admit being there, but even that denial, that is the thing that now police and prosecutors, they are pretty excited when he denies being there. And Scott, let's just talk about the why it's an important investigative tactic is to have the subject denying facts that you already have direct evidence that would impeach that statement. Remember, during this interview, Willcoxon is not convinced that investigators know it's definitely him. So he believes in his mind he could. Hawk his way out of this and walk out the door. If he denied ever being there or knowing anything about it. We would be able to confront him with his DNA on that bloody towel. Your cut yourself in disguise house. Please show your familiar you've never been there, so there's no reason why your blood would be inside that dead man's house. Ohhh. The police know that he's lying. And as a prosecutor I get excited whenever I hear that. Because now you're starting to lock him in and you're building the case because if he's lying, you have to ask why. And this interview I really look at is broken down into three sections. The first section is the denial, and now let's talk about the second part of that interview. Sergeant Perez went back in to talk to James Wilcoxson and this time he was more confrontational with him, saying that they had evidence that put him inside that apartment. OK, it's like I I tried to break up a fight between two guys, but I don't this guy don't look, don't look familiar. You try to break up a fight in the apartment, you said yeah. Between whom? Uh guy and his stepson, or something else? And why were you there in the apartment? Or was it being the stepson? There's a stepson. Them. So they got living in apartment? Yeah, was argument over. What is exploding like blocking the front door? What was the apartment downstairs or upstairs? And we now we have him admitting he has been inside that apartment. Now we've got him in a lie for when he said I didn't know Warren Thompson, I didn't go inside that apartment. Nothing's familiar to. Well, I actually did go in there, but it was to break up a fight. You know, and the other one, we had a nice with him trying to get in between and say, what's going on here? Got cut. Where'd you get cut? On my hand. My finger. You got a scar there or? Or is it the one on your palm? Let's be honest. No, no, this guy got it did. So I wasn't there. I didn't see anything happen. Better than that. That works. Yeah, take anything when you left, you know, you know, try to look around. The apartment wasn't my place to look around, OK? I think he was feeling the pressure from the police that they weren't going to back down and they didn't believe him. How many years have you lived with this? Yeah, it's it's almost been what, for 30 years? What's the steps on the language? He had a know you were hanging out with them, Gregor Krieger, and there was this guy's stepson. Yeah, three so. And that's significant because you all may start to have heard me say it enough that you know what I'm going to say, but I love that phrase. Admit what you have to and deny what you can. So now he knows that they have his blood in the apartment, so you can't deny you're over there. So what is an innocent explanation for it being there? He comes up with this theory of this other person being there and the fight, but a couple of things about that. He uses the name of a stepson and he gives the guys name as Greg, while Warren Thompson didn't have a stepson and he certainly didn't have a son named Greg. Val was his biological child and then it starts to sound just not believable when you're putting these different pieces together. And that's what police thought to and so they weren't done with that interview yet. Then he goes on to claim that he was there with some other guy, that the intention was to rob the victim. Where there was a guy, I don't remember his name, she could. I can get some money from this guy, he said. Just grabbed that TV and grab the TV, took it downstairs, put his car, went back upstairs. Now James Wilcoxson says he stole a TV from Warren's apartment, then saw the stepson and Warren in the kitchen and saw the stepson stab Warren in front of the refrigerator. Where was he stabbed? In the kitchen? Describe it to us. As far as the kitchen, he was on his back. That was this guy facing upper, facing down, facing down. Only was he placing himself there? He remembered that event in great detail. So what else did you take from that apartment? VCR and he says he saw Warren face down. 'cause you guys ransacked the house. Before you get up pretty much, I guess. And he says that Greg is what he was calling the step son told him we can get money. For things. And so he decided to steal all the prescription drugs inside the apartment. And then what were you looking for? Take any drugs or anything else prescription drugs. Now that story would change again and again, and that eventually these investigators would get to what they believed was the truth. So you meet this guy, Robert. Do you think it's Robert Craig? He goes, well, we get, there he goes, just grab TV goes. So you grab the TV at that point because you just say they're all not grabbing the TV. I mean, you're 30, some years old at this time, 23 year old, telling me to grab this TV. I mean, how does that work? So in the second part of the interview, he leaves off with saying that while he's watching this fight ensue between this fake stepson Greg and Warren, he makes it a point to say that when he leaves, Warren Thompson's very much alive. So as soon as you saw that, you took off. OK, yeah, I thought you said you ransacked the house after ransacking the house. Because so if that whole thing with the stepson and the dad happened, how come you're not jumping in and saying, hey, this is wrong? You know, you shouldn't be stabbing this guy. What a part of. I was pointed out of there. So you didn't approach him as he's doing this? No. What you told us earlier about getting in between them was was beyond. Let's be honest, James I went in there trying to pull him off. That's why I got cut. That's why I left. You gotta cut doing what? Trying to pull him off again and then never have my script. And when you got cut out of here, you didn't try to ransack the place or anything out here anymore. I mean, were you doing that before that? Yeah, but then after that you still go ahead and ransack the proper what would it look through a few things before I took that TV down. But but you said you took the VCR? Prescription drugs? Or actually you still stayed there after. You know that was after before I left. So you took the VCR and you took the TV. Personally, I think it's actually the car. OK. So did you doubt the guy? And if you did tell us why didn't fade away? And then the story takes its final turn. Eventually, James Wilcoxson admitted to stabbing Warren Thompson by himself and said no one was with him. I think James Wilcoxson walked into Warren's apartment because the door was open and saw the money on the table and wanted to take it, and Warren stood up and tried to stop him. And then it escalated from there where the violence in James Wilcoxson came out and he started fighting with Warren and cornered Warren into the kitchen where Warren had no escape. The knives were out on the counter in the kitchen. It was an easy weapon. For James Wilcoxson to pick up and start stabbing Warren. So now is the prosecutor, you know, you went from check to checkmate. You have his DNA. You have these evolving stories. And now certainly as the prosecutor, I would say, and prosecutors in this case did say, now they had enough, but now they have to look at this a bit more. Remember, we're talking about a crime that happened 29 years ago. We had to make sure all of the evidence was still available. We had to make sure all the officers involved in the initial investigation were still around. And would be able to testify in the trial. That's so critical when we move forward on cold cases because while they have enough to charge them, if they can't bring it through and present those pieces in the courtroom, well, then it's all going to be for not. And once they would get into the courtroom, a witness on the stand would reveal something that no one's not prosecutors, not the defense team, not anybody was expecting. Some of the things I do on any cold case trial is I try to take a jury back to the year the murder happened and make sure they understand technology was different, lifestyles were different, investigations were done differently. So going into trial, even though the prosecution had a videotaped admission to the murder of Warren Thompson and a positive DNA hit, by the way, Denise was prepared for a self-defense case and would the jury be open to that? And she began to test the waters as she was picking the jury. I asked them if they've been in confrontations with people and how they've handled this, try to find out what they think is acceptable as self-defense, and let's just talk about jury selection. It's one of my very favorite parts of the trial. People think about, you know, closing arguments and cross examination, but it all starts with those 12 people and ends with those 12 people in the jury box. So you really need to do your best to ensure that the people that are there, that they can be fair and impartial. In my opening statements, I told the jury that. James Wilcoxson has many self-serving excuses for why this murder happened, but when they look at all of the evidence it will point to James Wilcoxson intentionally murdering Warren Thompson after she seated her jury. It was time to call witnesses and it was at one very moment. When she had the victim's son, Val, on the stand, the courtroom went silent when he made a specific statement. We had a bombshell during the trial because Val took the stand and when the defense asked him if he recognized James Wilcox and Val immediately said yes, he used to collect scrap metal with my father. This was a big wait. What? They knew each other well? What does that do to my case? I was in shock. I didn't want to touch that area. And I didn't know what the defense was going to do. So let me ask you this. Hennessy, in your career, have you had situations where you are interviewing a witness on direct examination where they come up with something that they've never said to you or law enforcement or anybody else before 110%. I can think of several instances right off the top of my head. And of course, I mean, it puts like a chill through your body cause, wait, what? I didn't hear this. I didn't know this. And what do I do with it? But, you know, these aren't. Scripted back and forth, you have spoken to your witnesses ahead of time because it is part of our job to be diligent prosecutors, to speak to people before we decide, if we believe them, to put them on the stand. But these are real people and these are about real situations and things that they either know about or saw or heard. And so it definitely comes up that you are surprised. So it happens at that point is what is the defense going to do with that fact? The defense ignored the fact. They completely disregarded it. Didn't ask a single question about. Let's get a little deeper into self-defense as a defense for a second, because I think people just think about self-defense and what does it mean, you know, where you defending yourself, but it's really very specific. And here you had some great things going for it because it's a pretty good defense in this case, right? We're talking about a case that is decades old now. You have two people that knew each other. You certainly didn't have any surveillance cameras showing you what happened and who did what you know. So there could be a fight that you end up stabbing someone and you aren't committing self-defense, but the couple things that really stand out. There were one you have the fact that Warren Thompson was ill and not really capable of doing too much physical damage on his own. But it really comes down to me, to the stab wounds, both where they were and the number of them. Because many of the stab wounds you had not just to his neck, but to his back. Which means that he is not facing wilcoxen. And under the law you can only defend yourself legally up until the point that you can retreat to safety. So right there, to me that would be the strongest argument to saying this was absolutely not self-defense. And so if you're talking about that number of stab wounds at some point of the way, it clearly became nothing but intentional homicide. And clearly the position of the body. When police located it, he had nowhere to go. He was cornered. And that in itself is a powerful statement. In my rebuttal closing arguments, I focused on all of his changing versions and how they were all self-serving. And I reminded the jury, we know when James Wilcoxson wants money and gets mad, he's going to use a knife because that's what he did in the robbery in Pomona and that's what he did here in this murder. So in February 2630 years, almost 31 years to the day after Warren Thompson was murdered. There was a verdict. They were out for about a day. It's stressful waiting for the decision. You're looking at your phone all the time, waiting for that phone call, wondering if they have any questions and you want to give that family the good news. So there's a lot of pressure and stress waiting for that decision. We went back to court and we notified the family immediately and the jury was summoned into the court. The four person handed the bailiff the verdict forms in a sealed envelope and they were given to the judge. Who reviewed them and gave them to her court clerk who read the verdict and Wilcoxen was convicted of that crime. And just think about this from. Thompson's family. They had had to believe that they thought this crime would never be solved. Now they were able to stand up in court and talk about all that Wilcoxen took away from them. Father's friend. Husband. There were tears. Tears of sadness. Tears of relief. And it was very hard for Wendy. She knows, she said. As a 12 year old girl, finding your dad dead in the kitchen isn't something you can ever forget. Or put out of your mind. Val had the same reaction, he said. You know, being the last person to see my dad alive was a heavy burden to carry around for my life. And Hazel was just devastated. She never, ever thought that would be the last night she saw her husband alive. Now, Full disclosure, anesthesia and I have worked with Denise before and she is a talented prosecutor and she equally shares the passion that we have for victims. And she has a saying, and I think it's perfect. For every unsolved murder we have a victim without justice, a family without answers and a killer amongst us. And I feel like we were able to answer all three of these areas with this conviction. TuneIn next Wednesday, when we'll dissect another new case on anatomy of murder. Anatomy of Murder is an audio Chuck original, A Weinberger media and forseti media production summit. David is executive producer.