Mariah Smith took the witness stand Tuesday afternoon to tell the jury in the trial of Christina Marcum about an April 2011 incident.
Smith, who described herself as a former friend of Marcum’s, said she had known the defendant since she was 12 and always had a good relationship with her. For most of their lives, Marcum was “like a sister,” she testified.
However, that began to change after murder victim Angela Frazier Singleton went missing Jan. 16, 2011.
Smith described the relationship Marcum had with Jason Singleton, who in May of 2013 pleaded guilty to complicity to murder and is now serving 30 years in prison.
Marcum and Singleton seemed to truly care for each other and the fights she observed between them were “typical jealousy things,” Smith said. However, she recalled that when the couple broke up, it was because Marcum hit Singleton in the back of the head with a cell phone during one of their fights. In response, Singleton had her arrested on assault charges and obtained an emergency protective order.
Marcum pleaded guilty to the charge and spent a brief time in jail, Smith said, but after her release she was able to find some stability with her high-school sweetheart, Nick Marcum.
“For a while, she seemed happy with Nick,” Smith said. “I was over at their house probably two to three times a week.”
But according to Smith, her friend’s mood changed when she discovered Singleton had married. Smith said she couldn’t remember when Marcum told her about the marriage, but she did remember Marcum saying that it wasn’t valid because the bottom half of the marriage certificate had not been turned in at the courthouse. She also said one night an angry Marcum told her “I’m going to kill this bitch,” when they were speaking of Frazier Singleton.
Smith said Marcum and Singleton told her they were “getting back together” when they visited her Jan. 14 at her job at Journey’s Kids in the Lexington Fayette Mall to return a pair of boots that didn’t fit Marcum’s daughter.
The next time Smith saw Marcum was Jan. 17, the day after Frazier Singleton went missing. The defendant approached her as she was outside the mall smoking and asked to borrow her car.
“Without hesitation I gave her the keys,” Smith said.
She told the jury Marcum also asked to trade coats with her and handed her a jewelry box containing her engagement and wedding rings from Nick Marcum.
Smith said Marcum was gone for about 30 minutes. When Smith went outside again to see if her car was returned, she said she saw Marcum get out, close the door and walk away. Smith called Marcum on her cell phone, and when her friend answered, she whispered that she couldn’t talk because she was in a movie theater, but the keys were still in her car. When she opened the car door to retrieve the keys, Smith said she found a ticket stub from a movie theater inside, but she threw it away shortly after.
She added that Marcum did not come by her residence to get her coat or rings until at least 7 p.m. that night.
The next day, Smith said Marcum returned to the store and she asked her friend why she needed to borrow her car. Marcum then told her Frazier Singleton was missing, but she knew nothing about it.
Marcum didn’t tell her Frazier Singleton was dead until one or two months later, she said.
Smith said Marcum told her she and Singleton had gone to his house to search for his unregistered marriage license to prove his marriage to Frazier Singleton was null. Frazier Singleton was in the house and appeared to be passed out from taking several pills. However, she began fighting with Marcum when she awoke and found her in the house. Singleton intervened on Marcum’s behalf and in the process killed his wife, Smith said Marcum told her.
Marcum told her she tried to stop Singleton but was unable, Smith said. Marcum also told her a detective would be calling her but she should refuse to talk without an attorney present. Smith asked why, and she said Marcum told her the police were trying to implicate her (Marcum) in the murder.
When Detective Brian Reeder finally did contact Smith that April 7, she did not tell him much, and wanted to protect her friend, she said.
However, when she was at work later that day, Smith said Marcum first called and then appeared at the store “with a look on her face,” demanding to know what Smith had told Reeder. A coworker was eventually able to convince Marcum to step outside and let Smith work, but that was not the end of the incident.
Smith said she closed the store that day and took its deposit to a nearby PNC Bank. While there, she got a call from Marcum asking where she was, and Smith told her friend she had just made a bank deposit.
“Really, you’re leaving PNC? Because I don’t see your car anywhere,” Smith testified Marcum exclaimed.
Marcum then pulled up in her car.
“My heart stopped,” Smith said.
She said Marcum told her she wanted to know what was said in her conversation with Reeder. Smith told Marcum she was tired from working a 12-hour shift and wanted to go home, but Marcum could follow her there if she wanted to talk.
As she drove home, Smith said Marcum pulled in front of her at a stop sign and got out of her car. She approached Smith yelling and cursing, again demanding to know everything Smith had told Reeder, and she wanted to know it right then. Smith said she persuaded Marcum to leave the street and go to a parking lot, where Marcum again exited her car and began yelling, calling her a “bitch.”
“In the years of our friendship, she had never called me anything like that,” Smith said.
Smith said she was frightened and drove off, leaving Marcum in the parking lot. She drove over to a police officer who had the lights of his car on as he was helping someone with car trouble, saying she knew at that point Marcum did not have a driver’s license wouldn’t go near the officer.
Smith also called her boyfriend at the time, who told her to report the incident to 911. She did, and then called Reeder to tell him what had happened.
As she approached her residence while still talking with Reeder on her cell phone, Smith said Marcum drove up from the opposite side of the road and blocked her driveway. Smith turned onto a nearby street and attempted to make a U-turn but again was blocked by Marcum, she said. Finally, she was able to get around Marcum’s vehicle and pull into the driveway. Smith said she opened the door and ran into her residence as fast as she could, leaving her car door open. Marcum then left, she said.
Reeder sent a KSP trooper to Smith’s residence to check on her, and she met with the detective the next day.
Defense attorney Steve Romines pointed out that even after the incident, Smith still did not give Reeder all the information she had. According to the transcript of Reeder’s interview with Smith, she never told him Marcum was worried about police trying to implicate her in the murder. In the first interview, she told the detective that Marcum wasn’t involved in any way, and she didn’t correct her statement in the second interview the following day.
“I would think that anyone’s memory wouldn’t be as clear as a bell after going through what I went through,” Smith responded.
She also said that she has a condition where she “blanks out” when she is placed under a lot of pressure, and she is taking medication to treat it.
The trial will resume 9 a.m. today (Wednesday) if there are no weather delays, Judge William Clouse said.
Seth Littrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6623.