Relatives leave courtroom in tears as testimony continues in Cur

Relatives leave courtroom in tears as testimony continues in Curtis Harper trial

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Curtis Harper listens to proceedings on Tuesday. Curtis Harper listens to proceedings on Tuesday.
A KPD evidence technician holds up a pair of Nelzon Soto's shorts. A KPD evidence technician holds up a pair of Nelzon Soto's shorts.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Witnesses continued to take the stand Wednesday in the trial of the man accused of killing three people during a hit and run.

Curtis Harper is facing vehicular homicide and drunk driving charges from a May 2012 accident that killed Chasity Thornell, Nelzon Soto and Thornell's unborn child.

Witness testimony got underway Tuesday following opening statements from Harper's attorney and Assistant District Attorney Sarah Keith.

Knoxville police officers also testified about the accident scene describing it as shocking and the worst they'd ever seen.

On Wednesday, more Knoxville police officers took the stand and echoed the testimony of the previous witnesses.

Officer James Wilson described the scene as "gory" and "chaotic."

"It was one of the worst accident scenes I've ever seen," he testified.

Another officer, Jason Hughett, came to the stand next and described the scene as a "trail of blood and body parts."

"Their bodies were absolutely destroyed," he said.

"You have a way of dealing with things when it's an adult," officer Tricia Ward told the courtroom when asked about dealing with the crash. "They've lived their lives, so to speak. But when it's a child, it's a totally different ball game."

The jury was also shown video of Harper entering his apartment complex the night of the crash.

After a recess for lunch, an evidence technician with Knoxville police showed pictures of the vehicle believed to have been involved in the crash with a broken side mirror, a reddish brown stain and beer cans in the trash near the car.

Another evidence technician held up a pair of blue shorts belonging to Soto and his wife burst into tears and left the courtroom.

Thornell's mother and grandmother also had to leave the courtroom after the evidence technician held up the pants Thornell was wearing the night of the crash.

The judge warned the courtroom that Thursday could be even more difficult for victims' loved ones because the jury will be shown more photos of the crash scene.

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