Verdict possible Wednesday in Thomas Fleming murder trial

jdeleon@bradenton.comDecember 10, 2013 

MANATEE -- A verdict is possible Wednesday in the Thomas Fleming murder trial.

Testimony, which could include the former Bradenton police captain testifying in his own defense, is expected to conclude. After closing arguments and instructions, the jury could start deliberations.

Fleming, 69, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of his wife in their Bradenton home Oct. 1, 2012.

Family members never thought things would end the way they did, according to testimony.

"He didn't want a divorce. She didn't want a divorce. They just wanted to be separated," Fleming's niece, Kathy White, testified.

Fleming's defense attorney, Walter Smith, is arguing that the shooting was a crime of passion after a distraught, resentful husband was told by his wife she didn't love him anymore.

Fleming retired in the 1980s and has been on mental disability since, Smith said.

Manatee County Judge Thomas Krug ruled Tuesday morning, however, he would not allow testimony about Fleming's mental state at the time of the shooting into evidence because he is not using the insanity plea.

Stephen Jagosh, Fleming's neighbor who called 911, was the prosecution's last witness to take the stand Tuesday. Jagosh testified Fleming came to his door just after the shooting.

"He said he had something serious to talk to me about," Jagosh said. "Then he immediately began to ask

me to take care of his dog."

The neighbor said he then asked Fleming what he needed to talk about, but Fleming once again requested he take good care of his dog.

"Then he said: 'I just shot my wife,'" Jagosh said. "As he was walking across the yard he said: 'I don't care if you call the police or go ahead and call the police.'"

Manatee County Sheriff's Office Deputy Daniel Ensign described his encounter with a calm and unemotional Fleming after he arrived on the scene.

"He said: 'Just shoot me,'" Ensign said.

Smith has said Fleming plans to testify in his defense but a final decision will not be made until the prosecution rests.

Family members also testified as to the relationship between Fleming and his wife, who were married more than 40 years.

"He was a bit controlling, I thought, always, but that was my uncle Tom," White said.

Concerns Fleming had with his wife spending so much time with their daughter and grandchildren also came up in testimony.

"He was upset that we wouldn't ask for his permission for Claire to help with the kids," Fleming's son-in-law Loren Paul said.

The Catholic couple didn't believe in divorce, family members testified.

"I suggested maybe he and Claire should go to counseling," Fleming's niece Mary Stinson said. "He didn't want to go to counseling."

Manatee County Sheriff's Office detective John Kenney took the stand, detailing his first encounter with Fleming at the department.

"He actually started talking to us before we could talk," Kenney said. "He was very calm, flat-lined, very non-emotional."

Kenney also testified about his findings from the crime scene, including how blood was mostly on the bed, although there was some blood splatter on the wall and on the ceiling, he said.

"There was absolutely no signs of a struggle," Kenney said.

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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