Victims take stand in Troy home invasion trial

Published 11:00 pm Monday, March 11, 2013

At 1:06 a.m. on March 5, 2012, a Troy couple woke up to the sound of a loud bang and their home alarm blaring.

The wife’s first instinct was to run and lock the bedroom door. Her husband ventured out into the living area to see what had made the noise.

Standing inside the couple’s home was Thomas White, 21, wearing a ski mask and holding a .410 sawed-off shotgun. He had kicked in the front door of their home.

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The horrifying ordeal with White lasted about an hour and was recounted during the first day of a trial for two people believed to be White’s accomplices.

Police believe Parish Bean and Deanna McLeod, both now 21, spent March 4, 2012 and the morning of the crime with White. Both the prosecution and defense noted there is evidence of marijuana use, alcohol consumption and both suspects told police White even used powdered cocaine heavily before they dropped White off in the neighborhood where the couple lived.

“They delivered him in his own vehicle with Deanna driving,” said District Attorney Tom Anderson during opening statements. “They waited. They called him. They waited. They heard sirens.”

During the hour White was at the couple’s home, he struck the husband in the back of the head with a shotgun and terrorized the couple by demanding items and holding the homeowners at gunpoint. He made the couple gather car keys, debit cards, money, wedding rings and anything of value.

Both homeowners took the stand on Monday and said when White’s violence toward them escalated, that’s when they began to fight back.

The husband recounted he saw a moment when White’s attention was focused elsewhere and he reached for the gun. A struggle began. White threatened to kill the couple.

The couple testified that, for about 30 minutes, they physically wrestled with White. The struggle moved from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen to the living room. Kitchen knives became involved. The husband was finally able to pin White to the ground while the wife called 911.

Troy Police Lt. Greg Wright was the first officer on scene at 2:07 a.m. March 5.

“I could hear a commotion going on inside,” Wright told the jury on Monday. “As you stepped on the carpet, it was saturated in blood. Everybody in the residence was covered in blood.”

Officer Daniel Earles pulled up just behind Wright.

“[Male victim] was doing all he could to hold him down at that time,” Earles recalled. “The look on his face was just sheer exhaustion and he said, ‘Help. I need help.’”

The husband suffered knife wounds to his bicep, shoulder, hand, left forearm and was bleeding from being hit in the head with the shotgun. The wife had severe, deep cuts on her hand, wounds on her shoulder and back, and was grazed along her side when the gun discharged during the struggle.

White later died from his injuries at Troy Regional Medical Center.

No one in the courtroom Monday argued the circumstances and events that happened inside the victims’ home.

However, the prosecution and defense presented different ideas about why Bean and McLeod were with White shortly before the crime, and why they took him to the victims’ neighborhood.

“They went through Hell. But the question is, are [Bean and McLeod] responsible?” asked Jeff Duffy, attorney for Bean.

During his opening statements, Duffy said Bean, McLeod and White went through at least 48 Budweisers prior to the crime.

“They were doing drugs and getting high,” Duffy said, noting that Bean and McLeod may have become afraid of White after he used a large amount of cocaine.

“They are guilty of underage drinking, possession of marijuana and not calling 911,” said Susan James, McLeod’s attorney. “They are guilty of being young, dumb and afraid.”

Anderson said he believes evidence will show a different story.

“They are charged based on complicity,” Anderson said. “They dropped him off and waited for him for well over an hour, knowing he had a .410 shotgun and wanted to hit a lick.”

Bean and McLeod are both charged with one count of first-degree burglary and two counts of first-degree robbery.

The trial resumes Tuesday morning.