Jury to receive arson, aggravated assault case Thursday
A Cuero man told jurors Wednesday that he did not douse a home or his girlfriend with lighter fluid after the two argued over a cellphone and $10.
During the second day of his trial, Jeremy Louis Powell explained he already wasn't on good terms with the woman he was staying with, Kacey Gibson, when they woke up on March 14 after a night of partying with alcohol and marijuana at a home in the 1700 block of Avondale Street.
Powell, 28, of Cuero, is charged with aggravated assault in retaliation, arson and endangering a child criminal negligence.
She left their party and her 5-month-old baby with him and his friends without notifying anyone, he said.
When she came back home, they argued about that, but other guests were involved. He called the argument a "food fight."
Gibson, he added, is also not his girlfriend.
"They (women) have to show me that I can put all my trust in them," Powell said, adding he hurt his shoulder and was treated for it later.
But Powell cared about her kids, so much so that he introduced himself to Gibson's husband when he dropped her eldest daughter off at the house, he said.
"I told him I was going to give his kids just as much respect as I would give mine," said Powell, who is the father of a 10-year-old girl.
When they woke several hours after the "food fight," Gibson had the cellphone and found his $10 in his hiding place. He needed the cellphone to call a friend for a ride, and he was going to spend the $10 on cigarettes, he said.
"She said, 'The money is mine. ... If it was yours, you should have had it on your person,'" Powell said.
When she started calling the police, which she knew would arrest him because he had an outstanding warrant in DeWitt County, he went to the storage room in the backyard, where he thought Gibson kept his clothes in a trash bag. Then, he walked down Halsey Street, where he was arrested, Powell said.
In the storage room, "I smelled something. I noticed something wasn't right," he said.
Lt. Allen Carroll of the Victoria Fire Department; Tom Legler, Victoria fire marshal; and Emerald Nazareno, a forensic scientist at the state fire marshal's office, also testified. Carroll said firefighters extinguished a blaze in that storage room that had been burning for less than five minutes.
Although no flammable liquid was detected at the fire's starting point or on Gibson's clothing, flammable liquid was found on the linoleum tiles in the home, Legler said.
Legler also found a blue lighter fluid bottle in the storage room, and a red and white 16-ounce bottle of lighter fluid was found near the trash cans outside. He believes the fire was intentionally set.
Nazareno explained that Gibson's clothing may not have had a trace of lighter fluid on them because it evaporated. The clothing was collected by an investigator March 25. Powell's clothing was not tested.
Assistant District Attorney Eddie Wilkinson, meanwhile, attempted to show jurors Powell lied by replaying interviews and a 911 call where a man is heard threatening Gibson. Powell said his was not the voice on the 911 call, but he admitted to giving a police officer his brother's name when first asked to identify himself.
Both the state and the defense rested and closed.
Attorney Patti Lea Hutson represents Powell.
The trial will resume at 8:30 a.m. before Judge Robert C. Cheshire at the Victoria County courthouse, 115 N. Bridge Street. Then, each attorney is expected to make closing statements.