Accused killer Ryland Shane Absalon told participants in his group therapy program that he was high on heroin when he stabbed a young woman to death.
Stefany Knight, now a social worker in Arkansas, said she was "shocked" at Absalon's admissions that day in 1986, two years after the slaying of 18-year-old Ginger Hayden.
"Shane stood up to admit a wrongdoing when he was high on heroin," Knight told jurors in state District Judge Everett Young's court. "He said he killed a girl ... stabbed her. He had a knife. He waited in the closet, then he stabbed her on the bed."
The confession mirrors closely the facts disclosed in the Sept. 5, 1984, slaying. Hayden was found slumped beside her blood-soaked bed, stabbed 57 times.
Absalon, now 45, is standing trial on capital murder in her death. He has maintained his innocence, and says he made false confessions because he was pressured during the domineering program to admit wrongdoing so he could advance out of the program.
Her last words to her mother were, "I love you."
In emotional testimony that left some jurors in tears, Sharon Hayden Harvey testified from her wheelchair Thursday about finding her daughter's body beside her blood-soaked bed in the apartment they shared in west Fort Worth.
Harvey, who has multiple sclerosis but was not using a wheelchair at the time her daughter was killed, said she found the body when she went to investigate why Ginger Hayden, 18, had not turned off her alarm.
Instead, she found her body slumped beside the bed on Sept. 5, 1984. It would have been Hayden's second day of classes at the University of Texas at Arlington.
"I thought she was teasing me, and I went down and touched her leg and it was cold," she said.
She said she stumbled from the room and called an operator for help. "I said, 'My baby's dead," she said. Her screams woke the neighbors.
Harvey broke down in tears several times on the stand, but broke down in sobs as she left the courtroom.
Ryland Shane Absalon, 45, a former schoolmate of Hayden's at Arlington Heights High School who lived in the apartment just upstairs, is standing trial on capital murder in state District Judge Everett Young's courtroom in Hayden's slaying.
Prosecutors Lisa Callaghan, Jim Hudson and Anna Summersett have presented DNA evidence linking Absalon to the crime scene. Jurors also have heard testimony about a former confession he made in 1986 while undergoing drug and alcohol treatment.
Defense attorney Gary Udashen has told jurors that Absalon falsely confessed because of pressure to participate actively during the domineering program. And because he was frequently in Hayden's apartment, finding his DNA would not be significant, they say.
Testimony is expected to continue Thursday afternoon.
THURSDAY: 10:30 a.m.
Eighteen-year-old Ginger Hayden fought furiously against her knife-wielding assailant but the frenzied onslaught of stab wounds eventually killed her, a medical examiner told jurors Thursday.
Deputy medical examiner Marc Krouse testified that four of the stab wounds to Hayden's face, head and chest likely killed her, but the 53 other stabbings and cuts contributed to her death because of extensive blood loss.
The injuries corroborate an alleged confession that accused killer Ryland Shane Absalon made to fellow participants in a drug and alcohol treatment program. He said he stabbed a woman repeatedly in the upper body after she rejected his romantic overtures.
Absalon, 45, is standing trial for capital murder in state District Judge Everett Young's court.
Prosecutors Lisa Callaghan, Jim Hudson and Anna Summersett have presented evidence that Absalon's DNA was found on a towel and blood-soaked socks found in the bathroom of Hayden's apartment. The alleged confessions were made about two years later while Absalon was undergoing treatment at Straight Inc. in Richardson.
Defense attorney Gary Udashen has said Absalon falsely confessed to the crime after being pressured to speak up during the domineering Straight program, which has since closed. He said Absalon was frequently in Hayden's apartment, so it is not unlikely that his DNA was found.