WATERLOO —Three possible confessions were on display Friday, as two state witnesses testified to two separate incidents in which Theresa "Terri" Supino allegedly admitted to murdering an unnamed person(s).
A third possible audio confession was played in court from a recorded phone call Supino made to her twin brother Tim Supino while incarcerated in the Jasper County Jail March 4, 2014. In the phone call, Chief Jailer Wendy Hecox testified that Supino admitted to killing her estranged husband Steven Fisher in 1983. The recording was nearly inaudible, but sources close to the case confirm Supino said she killed Fisher but did not kill anyone else.
Supino is charged with two-counts of first-degree murder in the March 3, 1983 murders of Fisher, 20, and his girlfriend, 17-year-old Melisa Gregory at the Copper Dollar Ranch northwest of Newton.
Assistant Jasper County Attorney Scott Nicholson played excerpts from three phone calls recorded while Supino was in the Jasper County Jail. In all, Hecox testified jailer taped 731 calls the defendant made while detained and 52 incoming voice messages.
State's witness Allison Simmons testified Friday that she also heard Supino admit to killing someone during a 2001 conversation at an industrial cleaners where the two worked.
Simmons told jurors Supino made the comment after an intense conversation with coworkers on the day of 9/11 while finishing for the day.
"We were just about ready to wrap it up and Terri said, 'my brother and I killed someone,'" Simmons said.
The witness testified that she, Supino and multiple coworkers were having a conversation surrounding the tragedy and death during the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, and then the conversation shifted toward husbands and boyfriends. That's when Supino made the confession that she and her brother were once involved in a killing, Simmons said.
In Simmons' testimony, a specific killing or victim was not mentioned by Supino. The witness said she only worked at the industrial cleaners with Supino for roughly a month in 2001, and originally brushed off the comment.
Simmons later became friends with Melisa Gregory's mother Ida Reynolds in 2002 through a subsequent job. The witness told jurors after conversations with Reynolds about her daughter's death, she linked Supino's 2001 comment to the CDR killings. She told Reynolds and the possible confession, and Reynolds — who is now deceased — kept the information to herself until telling her daughter Lisa Gregory in 2011. Simmons said it was Lisa Gregory who convinced her to tell law enforcement, and had an interview with Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty at Reynolds home in May 2011.
The defense tried to press Simmons on why it was only after Lisa Gregory's influence that she went to investigators with the information. But in direct examination, Simmons told First Assistant County Attorney Scott Nicholson the reason she came forwards was "because it was the right thing to do."
Tyron Jordan, father of Supino's grandchildren, testified he was allegedly threatened by Supino in 2005 incident after the defendant was asked to pick up Jordan and his children due to car problems. Jordan told jurors Supino was "very agitated" when she came to pick up the family. Once everyone was in Supino's car, Jordan said the defendant looked at him in the rear-view mirror and she said, "I got away with murder once, and I can get away with it again."
The defense tried to discredit the witness, raising his status as a convicted felon and asking why the witness waited so long alert authorities. Defense attorney Jill Eimermann asked Jordan if he though it was a serious threat, why did he wait until after her 2014 arrest to approach Sheriff Halferty. Jordan said after he mentioned the comment to a friend's mother, law enforcement approached the witness. Jordan claimed he had not heard of the CDR murders until his encounter interview with investigators.
Due to a scheduling conflict, the defense called its first witness Friday. Independent blood pattern analyst Paul Kish examined the crime scene and autopsy photos on behalf of the defendant. The defense's blood pattern expert gave a different assessment regarded the handedness of the killer than state witnesses retired DCI crime scene investigators Wayne Eaton and Jeri Daugherty-Eaton. In testimony last week, the retired DCI personnel said their analysis showed a killer who was either left-handed or ambidextrous. But Kish said through blood pattern examination, he believes this conclusion is not possible.
"I know of no scientific way with the evidence in this case to determine whether the assailant or assailants were left or right handed," Kish said.
Kish analyzed the blood spatter and blood transfer patterns in the photographs and theorizes the blood on Fisher's foot could have come from the floor inside the trailer near the bed, which has an unidentified transfer stain. Kish also testified it appears Fisher could have been in an upright position before he came to rest in front of his Chevy Blazer on the ground at the CDR, due to blood drip stains on the front of his pants.
Kish said he would expect the killer to to be covered in a "substantial" about of blood after the murders because of the close proximity the assailant would have needed in the killings and because the murder weapon was taken from the crime scene which would have also been saturated with blood.
Jasper County Attorney Mike Jacobsen asked Kish about the clothes collected from Supino, questioning the expert on best practices in collecting potentially blood soaked evidence. Although he could not say if a suspect would never turn in blood soaked clothing he did agree waiting a few days — as was done in this case — would be diligent.
"Obtaining clothing as soon as possible is the best," he said.
A bomb threat at the Black Hawk County Courthouse delayed the proceedings Friday afternoon. The building was evacuated just before 2 p.m. and proceedings were allowed to resume by 2:41 p.m.
For updates and archived stories on the Copper Dollar Ranch murders, go to newtondailynews.com, follow @NewtonDNews on Twitter and Facebook and see full recaps of trial-related events from Waterloo in the Newton Daily News print edition.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at firstname.lastname@example.org