x

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Officials Testify In Elvis Thacker Murder Trial

LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) — The Elvis Thacker murder trial continues as the prosecution questioned officials who worked the case on Friday (April 15). Thacker...
Elvis Thacker

LEFLORE COUNTY (KFSM) — The Elvis Thacker murder trial continues as the prosecution questioned officials who worked the case on Friday (April 15).

Thacker is accused of murdering Brianna Ault, whose body was found in a Pocola strip pit in September 2010. The prosecution is expected to ask jurors to impose the death penalty if Thacker is convicted.

A 13-year-veteran at the Fort Smith Police Department, Larry Phillips, was the first to testify on Friday morning.

Phillips said he was the officer who guarded Johnathen Thacker, Elvis Thacker’s brother, when he took officers to an abandoned house in north Cedarville.

The home is where investigators believe the two brothers were staying before Ault’s murder.

It is also the home where investigators said the two brothers changed their clothes after they say Ault was murdered.

The home was in a rural setting. Phillips said all police vehicles were parked on a main road, and a rocky gravel driveway led to the home.

“I was responsible for Johnathen. We walked down the drive 30-35 yards,” Phillips said.

Phillips said it was dark and all officers were using flashlights to search the area.

“Johnathen and I stood on the left side of the drive,” he said. “I just happen to shine it down to my feet where we were standing and I saw something shiny in the leaves.”

The prosecution put the shiny object on a projector screen for the jury to see.

The object was a knife that they believe was used in Ault’s murder.

Oklahoma State Bureau investigator Shawn Ward took the stand after Phillips. The agent was called to the area where Ault’s body was found off of Texas Road in Pocola to investigate the crime scene.

“As we we took her out of the water, we were trying to assess her wounds,” Ward said.

He told the jury it was apparent Ault’s throat had been cut and there were cut marks on her back .

The agent said the cuts looked to be in a cross pattern.

Ward said he also investigated the scene at Southern Steel and Wore, where Ault’s car was found burning.

Ward said he found surveillance video from a nearby business that recorded the time frame he requested, 5-6 a.m.

Ward said they found a nearby dumpster. He said he found a black hat with a fishing hook attached to it on top of the trash.

“It didn’t look right. It just didn’t fit,” Ward said.

The hat was logged and put into evidence.

Investigators said the hat is believed to have been worn by one of the brothers.

Investigators said the surveillance video showed one person running away from the scene.

Agent Ward was also asked about a conversation he had with Elvis Thacker after he was arrested.

Fort Smith police arrested the two brothers at Tulsa Square Apartments in Fort Smith.

While serving the warrant, Thacker was shot after he stabbed a police officer investigators said.

Ward went to Sparks hospital, where he said Thacker was in custody in a hospital holding room.

Ward said he read Thacker his Mirand Rights and received agreement from him that he understood.

Ward said he asked Thacker about Ault’s murder. According to Ward, he recalled the conversation as this:

“I did it,” Elvis Thacker said.

“You did what?” Ward asked.

“I killed Briana,” Thacker said.

“How did you do it?” Ward asked.

“I cut her throat,” Thacker said.

Ward told the jury that Thacker told him he also burned Ault’s car by stuffing clothes in the gas tank and lighting it on fire.

Ward said Thacker continued by saying he wanted the hospital to fix him and didn’t want to speak any more.

Ward said he stopped the interview at that time.