FLEMINGSBURG — Security was tight at the Fleming County Courthouse Thursday for the examining trial of Roy I. Pollard Jr., who is accused in the murders of Jason Thompson, 25, and Willa Thompson, 52, and the kidnapping of ex-wife Bonnie Butler, 27, on Jan. 11, in the Muses Mills community.
Law enforcement officials from the Fleming County Sheriff's Office, Kentucky State Police, Montgomery County Sheriff's K-9 Unit and the Administrative Office of the Courts Security Division were present throughout the 30-minute hearing held to examine evidence and determine if there is probable cause to send the case on to a grand jury.
Deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office arrived around 10 a.m. to search the grounds outside the courthouse, as well as the interior of the building with two German shepherd dogs prior to the hearing.
District Court Judge W. Todd Walton II cleared the courtroom of spectators around 11 a.m., and any persons wishing to attend the proceedings were required to pass through a metal detector at the main entrance before being allowed back into the courtroom.
When Pollard arrived at the courthouse just after 11, he was shackled on his wrists and ankles and in the custody of Fleming County Sheriff Scotty Royse and Deputy John Catron. The defendant was sequestered from members of the Thompson family, media and others until the proceedings began at 11:25 a.m.
Once Pollard was seated and testimony began, the two K-9 officers and their handlers were brought into the courtroom, stationing themselves at the front of the courtroom near the defendant's table until the hearing ended.
The first witness called to testify by Fleming County Attorney John Price was KSP Detective Timothy Gibbs, the investigating officer on the case.
Gibbs said he received a call around 8 p.m. on Jan. 11, and was told three people had been shot, two were deceased, one injured and another person had been taken hostage from a home on Sugar Tree Road. Gibbs said when he arrived at the scene he found the bodies of Willa Thompson and Jason Thompson in the front yard of George and Willa Thompson's home; Jason Thompson was lying on his back and Willa Thompson was lying next to Jason.
Gibbs said shell casings were found outside Jason Thompson's home, as well as inside in the kitchen and back door.
According to Gibbs, it appeared Jason Thompson had been shot while inside his residence and then went to his aunt and uncle's home next door for help, when Willa Thompson came outside to help him. It was at that point, Pollard allegedly came outside and shot Willa Thompson from the driveway of Jason Thompson's home, a distance of about 180 feet.
The cause of death for Jason Thompson was a fatal gunshot to the chest, one of three gunshot wounds found on his body. Willa Thompson's cause of death was a shot to the head, as determined by the KSP Forensic Lab in Ashland to be a .00 shotgun.
Price asked Gibbs what kind of shotgun was used to kill both victims, to which Gibbs answered a "12-gauge single-shot shotgun."
Gibbs was then asked by Price how police determined who fired the weapon.
"There were several witnesses at the residence when the murders took place," Gibbs said. "Willa Thompson's husband actually witnessed that shooting."
Gibbs said Richard Anderson, who was shot in the hand during the incident, was attempting to close the back door of Jason Thompson's home after Jason Thompson came running into the house. Allegedly, Pollard came into the house, shot Jason Thompson once while in the kitchen and then proceeded to a front bedroom, where Butler had barricaded herself and her three children from her relationship with Pollard. Gibbs said witness testimony and evidence at the house indicated Pollard "removed Butler forcefully from the residence … she was drug by the hair through the home and out the back door."
Gibbs said Butler told him Pollard released her around 6:30 a.m. on the morning of Jan. 12, after holding her hostage for more than 10 hours in the woods surrounding the house on Sugar Tree Road. According to Gibbs, Pollard released Butler so that she would go to a house and call someone to get them out of the area. Instead, Butler called police and Pollard was arrested around 9 a.m.
Gibbs also testified that a shotgun and ammunition were recovered on Jan. 16 very close to the roadway in the area of Ryan Road.
Defense Attorney Tom Griffiths asked Gibbs if he knew what started the incident which lead up to the murders and Butler being taken hostage. Gibbs said he thought it was a case of jealousy, because Butler and Pollard had a 14-year relationship prior to Butler's involvement with Jason Thompson.
Griffiths than asked Gibbs if he was aware of anything "that evening" that lead up to the confrontation or when witnesses were first aware Pollard was at the home.
"What I'm asking you is … did they know what time Pollard got there?" said Griffiths.
Gibbs said no one knows when Pollard arrived at the home on Jan. 11, and the first thing anyone knew of something going on was when they heard gunshots and Jason Thompson came running into his house with blood on his face.
"Jason said, "Roy's out there, he shot me,"" Gibbs said, referring to witness testimony.
In further questioning by Griffiths about the sequence of events leading up to the death of Willa Thompson, Gibbs said, "Roy Pollard took aim and fired and shot Willa Thompson."
Gibbs was also asked by Griffiths if Pollard made any incriminating statements to him while in police custody following his apprehension on Jan. 12.
Gibbs said while Pollard was being treated at the Fleming County Hospital, Pollard said he didn't understand the charges against him. Gibbs said when he told Pollard he was being charged with two counts of murder, Pollard had no reaction, but upon being told he was also charged with first-degree assault for his shooting of Anderson, Pollard objected to the charge, saying he didn't know about a third person. Gibbs said he "had no doubt" Pollard was aware of his actions in shooting Jason Thompson and then Willa Thompson.
"He was Mirandized," Gibbs said.
Catron was also called by Price to testify in regard to a domestic dispute reported at the home of Jason Thompson on Dec. 3, 2007.
According to Catron, Butler called the Fleming County Sheriff's Office to report that Pollard was at the house and there was a domestic violence order against him. Butler said Pollard wrecked his car when leaving the house and had fled the area on foot.
Catron said he responded to the call and interviewed Eric Thompson, Jason Thompson's brother about the incident. According to Catron, Eric Thompson said Pollard has been at the house earlier in the day looking for Butler and was told she wasn't home. Eric Thompson said Pollard left, then came back, again asking for Butler; Eric Thompson told Catron the two men argued, then Pollard retrieved a gun from his car and pointed the gun at him. Eric Thompson told Catron, Pollard threatened to kill him.
Catron said he searched the area for Pollard until 4 a.m., but was unable to locate him. Pollard's car was impounded by the sheriff's department, where it remains.
Griffiths asked if there were any witnesses to the altercation between Eric Thompson and Pollard or if a gun was recovered from Pollard's car, to which Catron answered no to both questions.
Pollard was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment, a class D felony, and third-degree terroristic threatening related to the Dec. 4, 2007, incident and a bench warrant was issued for his arrest on the charges.
Following Gibbs' and Catron's testimony, Griffiths asked Walton to dismiss the charge of first-degree wanton endangerment since there were no witnesses to substantiate the claims of Pollard threatening Eric Thompson with a gun.
Walton then rendered his decision in the hearing, finding probable cause had been established on all charges, including the first-degree wanton endangerment charge related to the Dec. 4, 2007, incident. The case has been bond over to a Fleming County grand jury, which will meet on Feb. 1.
Pollard has been charged with two counts of murder and one count each of unlawful imprisonment, first-degree assault, first-degree burglary, tampering with physical evidence, third-degree terroristic threatening, and violation of a domestic violence order related to the events of Jan. 11.
Gary Thompson and Mary Toy Thompson, Jason Thompson's father and mother, were in the courtroom Thursday, along with a large contingent of family members and Butler. The family remained quiet throughout the proceedings, listening intently to Gibbs' and Catron's testimony.
Gary Thompson said he was satisfied with the findings of the hearing. He said the family is doing OK.
"We're holding together, that's about it," Gary Thompson said.
He also said he wasn't surprised at the amount of security in the courtroom.
When asked if there had been any trouble between his son and Pollard prior to the events in December, Gary Thompson said it had been a normal routine of Pollard picking up his children at the house and there was no indication of any trouble.
"I want him to go to the grand jury. I want them to bury him as far as they can bury him," Gary Thompson said.
Contact Marla Toncray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-564-9091 ext. 275.