Earl Chapman, 45, sat before Judge Ron Johnson and a jury as opening statements by Commonwealth Attorney Henry Johnson began. Chapman is being tried for the Feb. 16, 2001, stabbing death of Gail Thompson.
"There's no disputing the fact that Gail Thompson was killed, brutally killed," Henry Johnson began.
Johnson said Chapman's taped confession and blood evidence from the scene will bear out his guilt when they are presented before the jury.
"There's going to be evidence presented about blood trails and wounds, and there will be some pictures," he said. "This will give you an idea of the ferocity, the fierceness of the attack."
Opening statements for the defense were led by attorney W. Currie Milliken, who said the jury should take Chapman's mental capacities into account.
"The proof in this case will show that he is now 45 years of age," Milliken said. "Earl has an IQ of 66 and is by all accounts retarded."
Henry Johnson called Harlan County Sheriff's Deputy Winston Yeary as the first witness in the case. Yeary was among the original group of officers to respond to the crime scene. In his testimony, he relayed his account of the conversation between himself and Chapman on the night of the murder.
"Several times he said he was scared, and I asked him what he was scared of," Yeary said. "He said he didn't know."
The morning after the murder, Chapman agreed to be recorded and confessed to the killing, according to Kentucky State Police Det. Tim Hensley. The recording, Hensley said, included Chapman admitting that he hit Thompson several times with an iron skillet until the skillet broke into pieces. He then allegedly stabbed her to death.