Testimony begins in Lorenzo Thompson capital murder trial

Thompson charged in slaying of Airman Vanessa Pitts

SAN ANTONIO - A prosecution witness testified Monday in the trial of Lorenzo Thompson about a bizarre purse-snatching incident that ended in the death of Air Force Airman Vanessa Pitts.

According to prosecutors, Pitts was putting gas at a service station at Highway 90 West and Military Drive on April 12, 2010, when Thompson grabbed Pitts' purse and sped away in a stolen pickup truck.

According to a witness, Pitts jumped onto the side of the truck and was clinging to the luggage rack while standing on the running board as Thompson sped off. The witness said that Thompson swerved through traffic at a high rate of speed in an effort to knock Pitts, 23, from the truck as she hung on for her life. Moments later, the truck hit another truck and Pitts fell to the pavement.

"I saw her rolling and she rolled approximately a few feet in front of my feet," said the witness, who didn't want to be identified. "I started screaming, and I asked God to help us – just help us."

Pitts, who had just graduated from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, was critically injured and died at a hospital a few hours later.

Thompson, 32, was arrested after his fingerprints were found on the stolen truck that had been abandoned. He was charged with capital murder.

Prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty if Thompson is found guilty.

Testimony will continue on Tuesday in the 290th District Court. Judge Melissa Skinner is presiding over the trial.

To view a list of recent stories Paul Venema has done, click here.


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