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View Full Version : DXM News: "Jurors hear from Thomas' brother"

03-03-2005, 04:22 PM
Did DXM make Thomas kill 3 people, or was he crazy before he took the DXM? Interesting case.

http://www.herald-democrat.com/articles/20.../iq_1763817.prt (http://www.herald-democrat.com/articles/2005/03/03/local_news/iq_1763817.prt)

Jurors hear from Thomas' brother

By Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat

In addition to more mental health professionals, the jury in Andre Thomas' capital murder trial heard from Thomas' brother Wednesday.

The testimony of Thomas' older brother seemed to bring the trial back down to the ground after days of dueling experts. Rather than discussing possible diseases or causes for diseases from which Thomas might have suffered when he brutally killed his wife, Laura Boren Thomas, their son, Andre Boren, and Mrs. Thomas' daughter, Leyha Marie Hughes last March, Danny Ross talked about the kid brother he loved.

Ross said Thomas is one of five boys in their family. He smiled slightly and nodded when he called Thomas, "my little brother."

Defense attorney Bobbie Peterson asked Ross if he and Thomas were close and Ross said they were. But, the closeness seemed to have a limit. Ross said the two, both of whom were married and had children, never discussed their relationships with their wives. Ross said Thomas loved his only son, Andre Boren, like any dad would and was good with his nieces and nephews.

"He would stop and play with them before he would say hello to me," Ross said. He added that was one way he knew something was wrong when Thomas visited him on the night before he killed three people.

This trial centers on Leyha's death and on whether or not Thomas was sane at the time he plunged a knife into the toddler's chest and ripped out her heart.

Prosecutors Joe Brown and Kerye Ashmore say although Thomas undoubtedly suffered from some sort of psychosis at the time of the killing, that mental illness was drug induced and did not keep him from knowing what he was doing was wrong. Under Texas law, voluntary intoxication (with drugs or alcohol) is not a defense to criminal conduct.

Peterson and R.J. Hagood contend that the psychosis which drove Thomas to commit the unspeakable acts was not drug related and had been overtaking Thomas for quite some time before that dreadful Saturday morning.

Ross said his brother seemed depressed on the Friday night before he killed the young family.

"He just sighed," Ross said. He added that Thomas made the sound a number of times during the hour or so that they visited in Ross' home.

"He told me that nobody would help him," Ross said. He said he and Thomas discussed the fact that Thomas had gone to the hospital earlier that day seeking help because he had stabbed himself in the chest. Ross said Thomas reported that the hospital told him they couldn't help him because he didn't have insurance or a job.

"Did you believe that?" Ashmore asked Ross.

"Yes," the older brother said quickly with little emotion. He couldn't prevent the emotion from showing however, when he talked about his reaction to the wound Thomas showed him.

"I laughed," Ross said and then he hung his head and shook it back and forth before trying to explain that he really just wanted Thomas to know that trying to hurt himself was not a good idea.

"I said `what do you think, I want to go to my brother's funeral?'" Ross recalled. He said Thomas didn't have much to say in return. In fact, he didn't have much to say at all during the visit. Ross said Thomas just left without their usual friendly parting.

"Whenever we leave each other, we always give each other some love," Ross said. He explained it was their custom to hug each other good bye, but Thomas didn't do that this time around and it caused his older brother some concern.

The concern had been growing for a while though. Ross said his brother had been acting strangely for a while, but was not really clear on how long. Both prosecutors and defense attorneys tried to pin down the time frame, but Ross wasn't specific about dates. He said he knew Thomas smoked pot and drank and they sometimes smoked the drug together. He also knew that Thomas had abused the cold medicine Coricidin at least once.

"I told him I was stupid for doing it," Ross said.

As for the other odd things that people have testified Thomas did in the months before the killings, Ross said the family saw those things, but no one really talked about what to do about it. He was always just a little weird," Ross said. He added that Thomas' habit of putting duct tape on his mouth and refusing to talk for hours at a time was frustrating.

"I knew that he was going through something, but he wouldn't talk to me about it. He was pushing me away," the older brother said.

He then described being awaken on the day of the killings by police officers at his front door. They wouldn't tell him why, he said, but they wanted to know where Thomas was.

Ashmore asked Ross if he knew the amount of drugs and alcohol his brother is alleged to have been using in the days just before the killings and Ross said he didn't have any idea.

The amount of drugs and their impact on Thomas was the topic of the rest of the day's testimony. Jurors heard from three doctors who disagreed about how the drugs might have effected Thomas.

Dr. Jim Harrison was appointed by the court to study Thomas's competency, but he testified Tuesday that he thinks Thomas suffered from schizoaffective disorder. Dr. Robin McGirk agreed with that diagnosis. Their testimony was contrasted against Dr. Victor Scarano who said Thomas suffered from a drug-induced psychosis rather than a long standing or progressing mental illness.

The major difference between the three seemed to be the fact that Scarano could actually give the jury something to hang their hats on with the issue at hand. He told them Thomas was not insane at the time that he committed the crimes. To win the insanity question, Hagood and Peterson have to prove to the jury that their client didn't know right from wrong in the minutes that it took him to kill his three victims. The proof, the defense contends, need not be total or beyond a reasonable doubt. They have to prove that there is more evidence that Thomas didn't know right from wrong than there is that he did.

To prove that point, the defense has to contradict Scarano's contention that Thomas' use of drugs led him to lose his mind temporarily and kill. Both Harrison and McGirk pointed out indications that Thomas' strange behavior started before and continued after the drugs Scarano blames were in Thomas' system. Although alcohol and marijuana likely contributed, the major drug involved was, dextromethorphan, a substance found in the over-the-counter medication called Coricidin.

Under questioning from Ashmore, Harrison said the amount of DXM that Thomas is alleged to have taken wasn't nearly enough to cause the kind of psychosis Scarano attributes to the drug. Harrison said it would have easily taken twice that amount to throw Thomas into such a long-lasting break with reality.

The prosecution, however, contends that maybe the break hasn't been as long lived as Thomas has made it seem. Harrison said the prosecution's contention that jail nurse Natalie Sims thought Thomas was faking some of his symptoms was news to him. When Ashmore asked if Harrison was calling Sims a liar, Harrison seemed to think the idea absurd. He said he has a great deal of respect for the nurse, but has not ever known her to withhold such an opinion from him in the past.

Sims testified that she overheard Thomas tell another mental health worker that he had smoked marijuana laced with another drug before the killings. Harrison said Thomas denied smoking "wet" marijuana when asked about it as part of Harrison's examination.

Harrison then said he disagreed with Dr. David Axelrod's contention that Thomas suffers from borderline personality disorder. Harrison said it's difficult to make such a diagnosis when the person being examined is suffering from drug abuse because the two have similar symptoms.

Harrison contended that Thomas' abuse of drugs and the timing of his apparent decline in mental stability better fit the diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Scarano said that diagnosis doesn't fit at all with the evidence in the Thomas case. He said he had never heard of a certain level of DXM required to make a person suffer the type of symptoms Thomas suffered. He maintained that each individual person would have a different reaction to the drug depending on the amount of drug they took, and what they mixed it with.

The battle of the experts will continue when the trial resumes Thursday. See the Herald Democrat's online edition for updates during the day.