By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer
RICHMOND — After calling only one witness, the defense rested Wednesday afternoon in the trial of Christina Marcum, and closing arguments were scheduled to begin Thursday morning.
Marcum is charged with complicity in the murder of Angela Frazier Singleton. Angela’s husband, Jason Singleton pleaded guilty to complicity in the murder in May, and is serving a 30-year sentence.
In the trial’s seventh day, the defense began presenting its case. Its sole witness, Betty Nichols, said she briefly resided at the Singleton home in January 2011 with then-girlfriend Chianna Sutherland and helped care for Frazier Singleton’s two daughters.
The prosecution called Sutherland to testify Tuesday. She said several people in the house, including Singleton, Frazier Singleton and Nichols, abused pills and may have smoked methamphetamine. She also said Jason Singleton and his brother Tyler Singleton were making fake Florida IDs. She also witnessed Frazier Singleton and her husband abuse her older daughter by beating her, Nichols testified.
Defense Attorney Steve Romines said some of Sutherland’s testimony didn’t add up, that according to Kentucky State Police interview transcripts she never told detectives Nichols had done drugs. He also said Sutherland’s claim that Marcum called and harassed Frazier Singleton hundreds of times did not match what police discovered from phone records.
Romines also said he had seen records indicating Sutherland had contacted Nichols days before her testimony to ensure both told investigators the same stories.
Sutherland denied the claim, saying Nichols was the one who had called her. However, she later changed her testimony to say she had called four times, but she insisted the calls were in response to an original call from Nichols.
When the defense summoned Nichols to the stand, she said there was drug use in the Singleton house but she was not a part of it. She also said she had seen Singleton beat Frazier Singleton’s older daughter.
She added that Frazier Singleton told her she was scared of her husband because he would choke her until she almost passed out while they were having sex.
Nichols also mentioned the fake IDs, saying Singleton had told her he makes “$1,000 a piece out of it.” She also recalled Singleton saying that if he was sent to jail by a snitch that person would regret it, and he would never be suspected because he was locked up.
However, Nichols gave a very different account of Frazier Singleton’s relationship with Marcum, as well as what she and Sutherland told the police during the investigation.
Nichols testified that it was Frazier Singleton who hated Marcum and was jealous of her. She added that she had only heard Marcum’s voice once, and that was when Singleton put the phone on speaker to yell at his ex-girlfriend.
Nichols also testified that someone else living at the house, and not Marcum, while they were playing game had thrown a softball throught the garage window. Frazier Singleton called police later and convinced others at the house to blame it on Marcum, Nichols said.
After Frazier Singleton’s death, Nichols, who testified that she cannot read or write and has memory problems, said Sutherland, along with Frazier Singleton’s stepmother, Alicia Gibson, and made her copy a statement they had written to give to police. Nichols said she was told she would go to jail if they did not have the same statements. She copied the statement, although she knew some parts of it were false, and it falsely incriminated Marcum, she said.
Nichols told the jury she eventually tried to call the KSP to tell the truth, but as she was calling Gibson knocked her unconscious. The next thing she remembered, Nichols said, was waking up in the hospital.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Smith asked Nichols to tell what she remembered being wrong in the statement. She thought silently for some time before saying the softball incident was wrongly blamed on Marcum.
Smith then asked if anything else was falese, and Nichols said she could not remember. Smith asked if she remembered anything in the statement. Nichols said she could not remember what was in the statement but knew parts of it were false.
Nichols told Smith she had lied to KSP Detective Brian Reeder “for Angie (Frazier Singleton”).
“But Angie is dead,” Smith said.
When asked by Smith if she, Sutherland and Gibson were framing Marcum, Nichols said she didn’t understand what framing meant. She thought she was doing the right thing at the time for her dead friend, she said.
Smith then asked Nichols if Frazier Singleton would want the wrong person convicted of her murder.
“Wouldn’t it be better for the right person to be convicted of murder?” Smith asked.
“Yes,” Nichols said.
Smith then asked Nichols if she had been ordered in 2012 by a judge in Whitley County to take medication. She replied that she did not remember being ordered to take medication, but she had been seeing a “shrink” who prescribed Valium for her. Nichols said she was not on medication Wednesday.
Smith then asked Nichols, who lives on disability income, where she is living. Nichols said she has lived in a hotel room the past four days because she is afraid of Sutherland and Gibson, and that the room is being provided by the defense attorneys.
Defense Attorney Erin Kennedy said because the defense subpoenaed Nichols, it is paying for her hotel room and food.
The closing statements will begin Thursday at 9 a.m., according to Judge William Clouse.
Seth Littrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6623.