COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WZDX) - Testimony in the Ronald Weems murder trial took a ghoulish turn Wednesday as all three of his co-defendants took the stand for the prosecution.
Ashley Greenhill, Mathew Fox and Laurel Pruett all entered guilty pleas on one count of hindering prosecution and abuse of a corpse last week.
On Wednesday, each of them took the witness stand and gave their account of how Weems cut off Amanda Taylor's fingers and toes and recalled the story he told them about why he strangled her in the basement of his Moss Ave. home.
During Greenhill's testimony, she indicated Fox was known to have expertise in cleaning up crime scenes and had a notorious reputation. But when Fox took the stand, it didn't take long to see that was a reputation he neither deserved, nor wanted.
Fox told the jury that he had never met Ronald Weems or Laurel Pruett prior to the night of Oct. 17, 2011. He testified that Greenhill had called him and asked for help, and he came running. He says when he arrived at Weems' home, Weems asked him what he should do with Taylor's body. The 22-year-old said he recalled things from criminal justice classes he'd taken at UNA, and tried to play along to impress Greenhill.
Fox testified that he left around 5 p.m., only to return around midnight when Greenhill called him back. He said that is when he was led into the basement and saw Taylor's half-naked body for the first time. When questioned by Graham about why he didn't run or call police Fox said, "It was too late. I was already there and Weems had a knife and honestly I was just too scared."
Fox said he helped Weems remove Taylor's fingers and toes and then helped him load her lifeless body into the trunk of Weems' car. Graham showed the jury a picture of the vehicle with licence plates that read "WIKKID."
Fox was then questioned about the tools used to remove Taylor's fingers and toes. He said the hacksaw and hedge clippers belonged to him and after Weems cleaned off any blood evidence with bleach, he took them to the Arx Mortis haunted house in Killen where they became props.
Next on the stand was Weems' former girlfriend and the mother of his youngest child, Laurel Pruett. Pruett testified about how she discovered Taylor's theft of her $10,880 state check for back child support when she received a bank card in the mail from Bank Independent. Pruett said when she called the bank, she learned Taylor had used her identity to open an account and cash the check.
Pruett said on Oct. 6, 2011 she filed a report with the Muscle Shoals Police Department. At that time Pruett said she set up an appointment with investigator Craig Rickman for 3 p.m. Oct. 17th.
Pruett said in the days that followed, Weems showed her texts from Taylor asking him to keep her from going to police. She testified she had no knowledge of Weems' involvement in the theft.
She said on Oct. 17th she got a phone call from Weems around 2 p.m. telling her that Taylor had attacked him and run off. Pruett said she went to his home and when she arrived Weems pulled her into the bathroom and told her, "I killed Amanda. Her body is in the basement."
Pruett then admitted to telling Weems to come with her to her appointment with Investigator Rickman. Once there, Pruett said she told Rickman about the theft and identified Taylor in Bank Independent surveillance photos. She said Weems told Rickman about Taylor's alleged attack and allowed him to take photos of scratch marks on his arms and sides.
Pruett said the following day, she and Weems washed and vacuumed his car. Then she said she called mutual friend Stacey Young and asked her if they could come burn some items on her property. Pruett said she and Weems took an ice cream bucket containing Taylor's fingers and toes along with Taylor's clothing to Young's and burned it in the yard.
Graham then entered a letter Pruett received from Weems while incarcerated into evidence and asked her to read it aloud to the jury. In the four page hand written note, Weems details his love for her and apologizes for not showing it when it mattered. He told Pruett that he had discovered faith and that after much prayer, "God came to me and showed me the truth about what happened."
Weems then goes on to say that during Taylor's murder he simply blacked out and that God showed him that he only strangled Taylor to the point of becoming unconscious. Weems then tells Pruett that Greenhill convinced him not to call police and that when they left for the police department, Greenhill returned to the basement and "finished her off."
Weems claimed in the letter that Greenhill wanted body parts for "witchy stuff" and that she had frequently talked of wanting to take a life. He then asks Pruett to "Make my truth, your truth for the sake of our love."
Graham then asked Pruett if Weems' truth was in fact her own as well? Pruett said no and told the jury that Weems had asked her to lie for him on numerous occasions. Pruett told jurors that in the days after Taylor's murder, Weems told her he killed her because she was trying to connect him to the theft of her check.
As Pruett read the final part of the letter, Weems began to sob from his seat beside defense attorney John McKelvey. As he wiped away tears, Pruett and Weems locked eyes for the first time since she took the stand and she too broke down and began weeping.
Testimony in the case is scheduled to resume Thursday morning.