UPDATE: 2:20 p.m.
Convicted killer Steven Lawayne Nelson set fire to his mother's bed when he was about 4-5 years old after his drunk, abusive father left a lighter at the home, Nelson's mother, Kathy James, told jurors Monday.
James took the witness stand in her son's defense and told of failed efforts to help her son do better in school. At times he was prescribed medications for attention deficit disorder, but she said they made his symptoms worse.
Defense attorneys Bill Ray and Steve Gordon have suggested to jurors that Nelson's mother gave up on efforts to help her son, and effectively abandoned him emotionally. James' testimony Monday supported that theory - she skimmed over his criminal history, and suggested that he was fine until he came under treatment for hyperactivity.
Nelson sat quietly during the testimony.
Prosecutor Bob Gill, who is trying the case with Page Simpson, brought up during questioning of James, however, that Nelson had interaction with a stepfather and grandfather, and that he participated in Boys Club programs and church activities.
Testimony is continuing before state District Judge Mike Thomas.
Nelson was convicted last week of killing Arlington pastor Clint Dobson in March of 2011.
UPDATE: 12:30 p.m.
In an effort to convince jurors to choose life without parole instead of the death penalty for convicted killer Steven Lawayne Nelson, the defense on Monday hammered away at DNA evidence uncovered in the killing of Arlington pastor Clint Dobson.
Defense attorney Bill Ray, who is handling the case with Steve Gordon, presented testimony from DNA experts Monday that suggests that other, unidentified assailants could have been in the church on March 3, 2011 when Dobson was bound, beaten and suffocated with a plastic bag.
Prosecutors Bob Gill and Page Simpsons, however, hammered back with evidence that indicates Nelson killed Dobson. Church secretary Judy Elliott was also beaten and left for dead but survived the attack.
Nelson was convicted of capital murder last week and the jury now is hearing evidence to decide punishment. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
Testimony is expected to continue today before state District Judge Mike Thomas. The jury could begin deliberating punishment as early as this afternoon or Tuesday morning.
Monday, Oct. 15
The defense for convicted killer Steven Lawayne Nelson began its case on Monday by challenging evidence that Nelson killed a mentally ill inmate in the Tarrant County Jail while awaiting trial in the death of an Arlington pastor.
Defense expert John Plunkett, a forensic pathologist from Minnesota, told jurors that he believed Johnathan Holden, 30, would have contributed to his own death or killed himself.
"He must have been an active participant for this to have occurred," Plunkett said during questioning from defense attorney Bill Ray. "I would say this is probably a suicide."
Prosecutor Page Simpson challenged the conclusion, however, asking Plunkett if he was familiar with Holden's "meek and mild" demeanor and the statements from other inmates that Nelson strangled Holden with a jail blanket.
Nelson, 25, was convicted of capital murder last week in the death of Clint Dobson, 28, pastor of NorthPointe Baptist Church in north Arlington. Dobson was beaten, bound and suffocated with a plastic bag. Church secretary Judy Elliott was beaten and left for dead but survived.
Jurors are now hearing testimony in the punishment phase of the trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Nelson, although he could also face a life sentence without parole.
Testimony is expected to continue today before state District Judge Mike Thomas.