Woman recalls argument that led to being doused with lighter fluid

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Nov. 5, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.
Updated Nov. 6, 2013 at 5:06 a.m.

Jeremy Powell

Jeremy Powell

A Victoria woman described for jurors Tuesday how her boyfriend sprayed her with carpet cleaner, mustard, Windex, Coke and blue Kool-Aid when she came home during the early morning hours of March 14.

When they argued again a few hours later, he sprayed her with lighter fluid, she said.

Kacey Gibson was testifying in the trial of Jeremy Louis Powell, a 28-year-old Cuero man she met on Facebook.

Powell is charged with aggravated assault in retaliation, a first-degree felony; arson, a second-degree felony; and endangering a child criminal negligence, a state jail felony.

Gibson explained that Powell was upset because she left her 5-month-old son with him and his friends during a party at her house in the 1700 block of Avondale Street.

When she returned home, he took her cellphone and refused to give it back. That's when the argument got physical. He pushed and choked her in addition to spraying her with items around the house, she said.

A few hours later when Powell woke up and discovered she had taken back the phone as well as kept his $10 bill, he resorted to more drastic measures, Gibson said.

"He started threatening me, telling me he was going to set me on fire," she said. "I guess I didn't take him seriously."

But Powell sprayed lighter fluid in different rooms of the house and attempted to light a piece of paper on fire. Then, when she called 911 at 8:47 a.m. and told dispatchers his name, he squirted what was left of the lighter fluid on her, Gibson said.

The state also called Gibson's neighbor, Bennie Davis, to testify. Davis said Gibson was married but was dating or living with Powell for about a month before the argument occurred.

On the morning of March 14, she saw Powell leave the house, go to a storage room in Gibson's backyard and cross several fences to Halsey Street, where a police officer arrested him.

Investigators later found a mattress on fire in the storage room.

Davis offered to take the 5-month-old and Gibson's other guests to her house. Gibson's guests were never questioned by police.

During opening statements, Assistant District Attorney Eddie Wilkinson said Powell lied to police about his identity because he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in DeWitt County.

Powell was mad at Gibson because he thought she was cheating on him, Wilkinson said.

"You're going to see that this is a chaotic scene. ... You have a woman who will tell you she only got 30 minutes of sleep that night," he said.

Defense attorney Patti Lea Hutson, meanwhile, pointed out that Powell was never questioned by police.

She also suggested it would not make sense for him to burn the storage room down because it contained all of his belongings nor would there be enough lighter fluid to douse the house and Gibson.

The lighter fluid came in a 16-ounce bottle, and the two had used it to barbecue a few days before, Hutson said.

"There's two sides to every story, and in this case, that can't be any truer," she said. "(Gibson) was afraid (Powell) was going to tell her husband or authorities about her abandonment."



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