Monday, August 20, 2012
Prosecutor: Clump of dead woman’s hair found in back of murder suspect Terrance Black’s car
Also on the first day of the trial, a Plano police officer detailed how he found Susan Loper's body.
The trial of Terrance Black, the Frisco man accused of killing Pilates instructor Susan Loper, has begun at the Collin County Court House. Loper was Black's ex-girlfriend.
Loper's body was discovered in a Frisco field on the morning of April 20, 2011, one day after she was reported missing from Gleneagles Country Club.
In his opening statement, prosecutor John Schomberger detailed how a clump of Loper's hair was found in Black's Cadillac Escalade after Black leapt off the Grand Canyon in April 2012.
Black's attorneys criticized detectives for jumping to conclusions and singling out Black. The defense attorneys said police disregarded other potential suspects, including an ex-boyfriend they said suffered a bad breakup with Loper a month prior to her murder.
The first witness was Catherine Miller, Loper's mother, who testified that Black's absence at Loper's house on the day of the murder was out of character for him. She said the rest of Loper's friends showed up at the house to lend support, while Black was nowhere to be found.
"We thought he would he would have been one of the first ones over there when he heard Susan was missing," Miller said.
After a brief morning recess, two former clients of Loper's took the stand. Both women said that on the morning of April 19, Loper failed to show up for their Pilates appointment, something both women said had never happened before.
The second woman, Lisa Bacic, was the first person to enter the Pilates studio on the morning Loper went missing. She said the studio was in disarray, noting that "it was obvious there was something wrong."
The court took a one-hour recess for lunch and will resume testimony at 1 p.m.
Prior to the court taking a short afternoon recess at 3:35 p.m., Plano Police Officer Joel Scott took the stand. Scott testified he was the first officer on the scene at Gleneagles Country Club the morning Susan Loper was reported missing. He also was the office who located her body the following day, April 20, 2011, in a field in Frisco adjacent to the Dallas North Tollway.
Scott testified the body was nude from the neck down, with a red sweater or jacket covering the face. He said he decided to search the field after hearing grain, or some other type of long grass, was located in Loper's car. He testified he attends church near the field, which is why he searched it. Once at the field he located fresh tire tracks, which he followed to the body.
Chuck Bolden, the operations director at Gleneagles, testified about the 16 video cameras that are located at the club. He downloaded images from one of the cameras for officers shortly after Susan Loper was reported missing.
Officers only looked at two of the 16 cameras, a point brought up by defense attorney Toby Shook. This move by Shook is in line with his narrative earlier today, where he stated detectives settled on Terrance Black early in the case and didn't do a thorough investigation. The video was not shown in court during Bolden's testimony.
Detective Fred Garcia now on the stand. Garcia was tasked with downloading the video. The video is now being shown.
Day One of the trial wrapped up with Plano Police Detective Stan Roady on the stand. Roady testified about the search warrant served at Black's Frisco residence early on April 20. The officers went in looking for a 9 mm handgun and ammo but didn't find either. They also failed to find any blood evidence, and Roady said the house appeared well kept and didn't appear that someone had packed their bags in a hurry in an effort to flee town.
The day was highlighted by testimony from number of workers at Gleneagles Country Club. Defense attorneys repeatedly asked if any of the workers had ever seen Loper bring any of her boyfriends to work. All workers said they had not seen that, a small victory for the defense who is attempting to prove that another of Loper's ex-boyfriends, Jayson Hayes, may have been responsible for the murder. Defense attorneys said Hayes' fingerprint was found on an overturned privacy barrier in Loper's Pilates studio, but also said he was never investigated as a suspect. Officer Joel Scott testified that he first heard the name Terrance Black was from Hayes, when he ran into him at Gleneagles several hours after Loper was first reported missing.
Testimony will resume at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
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