Detective recalls capital murder suspect arrest: 'You don't know what I've done'
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The murder trial for capital murder defendant James Calvert continued Wednesday. Our Cody Lillich is in the courtroom providing live coverage through 7OnScene; follow his updates here.
Testimony resumed Wednesday morning in the capital murder trial for a Smith County man, accused of murdering his ex-wife and kidnapping their son in October 2012.
James Calvert is accused of shooting Jelena Sriraman before abducting their then 4-year-old son Lucas and fleeing to Louisiana, where he was eventually arrested.
On Wednesday morning, proceedings began with the state calling retired Cpl. Jade Gabb from the West Monroe Police Department. Gabb was called as a custodian for the dashcam and interview video for the police department.
In reference to his footage of the short chase through the state, Gabb told the court that West Monroe officers carry unique keys that associate an officer with a digital video recorder within a unit that would have been used similar to a dashboard camera.
West Monroe Detective Ray Spoon also took the stand Wednesday. Spoon told Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham he was working interdiction on Interstate 20 the day of Sriraman's death, when the suspect's vehicle passed him. Spoon told the court he began following Calvert's vehicle because of several "indicators" that tipped him off, including crossing the center line on while exiting.
Calvert objected to the testimony, and questioned what those indicators could be. He stayed as far away from Spoon's squad car, he never looked at the car as he passed and he was a single occupant, Spoon replied. Those indicators, plus his abrupt and shaky turn onto the I-20 exit ramp, Spoon said his first thought was Calvert was drunk.
Bingham asked if Spoon remembered what street Calvert was arrested on, which Spoon replied, ironically, was Tyler Street in West Monroe. Spoon said Calvert nearly got into a crash near one intersection at U.S. 80, and recalled Calvert's reckless abandon of traffic laws the day of the chase, running through stop signs, but at a suspiciously slow speed.
"It was a slow rolling chase. It's like he was trying to bait me," Spoon said, to approach Calvert's car to harm him.
Spoon said "it blew [his] mind" after realizing a child being in the car: "I'll never forget seeing that little boy in a Halloween costume. I'll never forget seeing that little boy," Spoon said.
The chase would soon end in West Monroe, but not without incident. Spoon recalled Calvert would not comply with commands from officers, causing one of them to break out the car's window and "physically drag him out of the vehicle", he said, even at one point Adding to the situation, Calvert had a handgun in his lap, another gun in the floorboard near his son's feet, and an AR-15 and AK-47 rifle in the trunk.
Spoon recalled Calvert saying to his arresting officers prior to his being transported back to East Texas: "You don't know what I've done."
The detective recalled the reaction from other responding officers, including a corporal who was particularly glad they saved Calvert's son, Lucas. Around the time of his arrest, officers realized the vehicle involved in the chase was the subject of an Amber Alert, which they were briefed on earlier in the day.
Spoon said it was a good thing he and other officers saved Lucas: "It's reminding me God's taking care of us while we work everyday."
After Spoon's testimony, Bingham began admitting evidence to the court, when Calvert was heard muttering the word "wow". Smith County Judge Jack Skeen immediately recessed the jury to address the response.
"When the court makes a ruling, you don't make an audible response like 'wow', that is totally disrespectful," Skeen told Calvert. "There's not a judge in Texas that has to put up with that."
Calvert claimed the remark was involuntary, and apologized to Judge Skeen. The judge warning him if he acted up again, his self-representation would be removed. It's a familiar threat between the judge and Calvert, who has a history of acting up in the court.
Bingham called his final witness for the day, Justin Cummings, an officer with West Monroe police. Cummings told Bingham that Calvert and a silver Buick were the subject of a BOLO, or Be on the Lookout, previously mentioned.
Dashcam was presented from Cummings' squad car from the day of the chase. In the video, an officer is heard saying Calvert had sped up to 65 miles-per-hour in a rural, residential area. At the end of the chase, officers are heard yelling "Get out of the car" and "Open the door." After shattering Calvert's window, an officer then grabs Lucas from the backseat and takes him to a squad car.
"I don't think any child should have the be put in that sort of danger," Cummings said about the chase.
Calvert's capital murder trial is expected to last for weeks. Calvert is representing himself during the trial, and has said he intends to pursue an insanity defense. District Attorney Matt Bingham has also said he intends to seek the death penalty in the case.
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