The prosecution rested their case Thursday in the jury trial for Chase Simmons, the person charged with the 2019 murder of Amarius Winstead and Jasper Brown III as well as assault for the non-fatal shooting of Tyler Glover. Day four included testimony from a person who claimed Simmons admitted to the shooting and from his mother. The case will be turned over to the jury Friday following a presentation by the defense team.
Quick facts of the case
A party took place at 8221 Crisp Road starting the evening of May 31, 2019. A shooting took place around 12:30 a.m. on June 1. Simmons, 17 at the time, was arrested on June 6, and he was charged with the murder of 16-year-old Winstead and 19-year-old Brown. Simmons was also charged with second-degree assault because Glover, 19 at the time, was also shot one time but recovered from his injuries.
Daviess County Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Kuegel is prosecuting the case along with Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Kristin Whitney. Simmons is represented by Patrick Flaherty and Bryce Caldwell. The case is being heard in the courtroom of Daviess Circuit Judge Jay Wethington.
We’ll continue to provide updates as the trial continues.
Testimony from Madison Carpenter
Carpenter, who testified virtually, said she was in a juvenile detention center in Adair County at the same time as Simmons in 2019 — and that Simmons told her he shot Brown and Winstead.
While many detention centers do not allow cohabitation, Carpenter said she was in the same pod as males, and that she was the only female. She said they each had their own cell, but had some common areas.
Carpenter said the detention center didn’t typically allow females and males to interact, but some of the staff let them intermingle in common areas such as during recreation time at the gym.
Carpenter said she had two direct interactions with Simmons: once in the gym, and once in the common area of their pod.
During the gym interaction, Carpenter said that she, Simmons, and one other male were talking. Carpenter said the detention center staff member was sitting on the bleachers during the conversation.
Carpenter said Simmons told them he was charged with two murders, and said Simmons admitted that he did it. According to Carpenter, Simmons said the shooting took place at a party and that there was an argument, but she couldn’t remember much beyond that.
However, Carpenter said Simmons specifically said Brown’s and Winstead’s names (she said Simmons said Rex and Mari, which has been established during the trial as their respective nicknames) — and that while she didn’t know them at the time, she later found out she had mutual friends with them.
Kuegel asked what Simmons said about Brown and Winstead, and Carpenter replied “that he killed them.” Kuegel then asked if Simmons said how, and Carpenter said “he shot them.”
The second direct interaction between Carpenter and Simmons occurred later in the common area. She said Simmons said “something slick” and was being aggressive, and that guards intervened and took him to his cell.
Carpenter said she then talked to her social worker because she no longer felt safe and wanted to be moved. During that conversation, Carpenter also mentioned that she’d talked to Simmons before and that he’d admitted to the shooting.
During cross examination, Caldwell asked several questions about the living arrangements, saying he’s never seen any jail where people of the opposite sex were allowed to cohabitat in the same pod. Carpenter reiterated that she was the lone female in the pod. She said the detention center in Adair County doesn’t keep many females, and that they only opened a female-only pod when there were enough to make it necessary.
Testimony from Misty Church
Church is Simmons’ mother. During the prosecution’s questioning, Church claimed she didn’t remember much about that night of the shooting, the days following, or her statement at the time that included specific details. However, during the defense team’s questioning, Church was able to recount some specific conversations that occurred during that same time period.
Church said Simmons was living with her at the time of the shooting. Upon initially being asked what she remembered about that night, Church simply said that Simmons was home when she went to her room, but that he left and came back 15 minutes later. She later said Simmons said he wanted to go to a party but she told him no.
Church said she knew Simmons left the house after she went to her room because she heard their dogs barking, adding that she was confident he came home 15 minutes later because she heard a door shut. However, she later said she never actually came back out of her room to see who was at the house.
Whitney then showed Church the statement she gave to detectives in the days after the shooting, noting that the interview was recorded. Church said she remembered small portions of the statement but not all of it.
Whitney said according to the statement, Church said she got up between 1:30 and 2 a.m. on June 1 and Simmons was not there; that Andrew Simmons’ car was in the driveway but that he was not home so she text him; and that Chase and Andrew Simmons were not at the home when she got up at 7 a.m. and that Andrew’s car was then gone.
Church said she didn’t remember saying any of that. Upon being pressed, Church said she has long-term memory issues. She also admitted she was upset she was having to testify.
Church also said she didn’t remember anything that happened on June 1 after she woke up, but then said she had phone calls with people saying there was a shooting. Church said she doesn’t know if Simmons was at the house when she was having those calls, and didn’t remember if she spoke to him that day.
Going back to the statement from June 1, Whitney asked Church if she remembered telling detectives that she “texted Chase and asked him if he shot that boy and Chase responded by telling you to shut up.” Church said no.
Church also said she didn’t recall telling detectives that she discovered she was missing a 9mm handgun that day. She then admitted that she remembers a gun went missing.
Church then testified that she was talking to Simmons on the phone when law enforcement arrived at the house on Wembley Way. She said she told him to go talk to them.
During cross examination, Church was able to recall conversations during the same time frame Whitney inquired about.
Church said she told the detective that she told Andrew to tell Chase to turn himself in.
She also said Chase got a call from Andrew on the night of the party and that at least a portion of the conversation was over speakerphone. She said Andrew told Chase that “ain’t nobody at this party, I’m about to leave.”
She also said she remembered talking to Simmons between the shooting and when he was arrested, but she said Simmons never said he was responsible.
According to Church, her mental state was “not good” when she realized that Simmons was the suspect in the shooting.
Church said she remembered talking to a detective and saying “if he did it, then that’s it.” She also said the detective told her Simmons “was gonna be dead” if he didn’t turn himself in because people were looking for him, adding that she was told Brown’s family was looking for Simmons.
Testimony from Jared Spurrier
Spurrier was the lead detective on the case for the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, and he was the detective on call the night of the shooting. Much of Spurrier’s testimony outlined the steps detectives took as the investigation unfolded.
In summary, Spurrier said while no one ever said they saw Simmons pull the trigger and there was no DNA evidence directly tying him to the gun, there was enough other evidence and testimony that matched up to identify Simmons as the shooter.
Spurrier said he was called to the scene of the shooting between 12:30 and 1 a.m., and by the time he arrived there were only five or six people still there, the victims had already been transported to the hospital, and the shooting scene had been secured so he began to process evidence.
Spurrier said DCSO got many calls in the following days of people saying they were at the party, and those statements helped identify other people for detectives to interview.
Spurrier said Simmons became their suspect on June 1 after they talked to Trinity Davidson.
“At that point in time, that’s whenever our investigation shifted focus,” Spurrier said.
Davidson has been identified in the trial as one of four girls in a car driven by Savannah Helm that night. Though some portions of their testimonies varied, two of the girls — including Helm — said they heard Simmons say he shot Brown, and a third girl said she heard Simmons say he did something to Brown but she wasn’t sure what.
Davidson was called to the stand Wednesday but was excused by Wethington without giving a statement. Whitney’s only question was whether Davidson had heard any sworn testimony, and her answer was no. Attorneys from each side had a brief discussion with Wethington, and Davidson was excused with no reason announced. (Note: Wethington ordered that no witness is allowed in the courtroom prior to giving their own testimony.)
A call log obtained later by DCSO backed up the girls’ testimonies that Simmons called Helm via FaceTime in the minutes following the shooting. It showed the call came in at 12:33 a.m. and lasted 1 minute and 2 seconds.
When detectives first interviewed Helm shortly after the incident, she said she didn’t know anything. She testified Wednesday that she didn’t say anything at the time because she was scared.
However, detectives came back a few days later, at which point “I told them that I wanted to come forward and tell the truth and tell them what I knew.”
That’s when Helm told detectives she received a FaceTime from Simmons. She also submitted her phone and her car for evidence at that time.
“Her interview was extremely crucial in this investigation. Not only was it what she was able to confirm to us, but the digital evidence that she was able to show us to substantiate her and other individual’s statements,” Spurrier said.
At that point, they obtained an arrest warrant for Simmons. Spurrier said they were still receiving tips and were “physically exhausting all of our capabilities” so they requested assistance from the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.
That eventually led to Simmons being arrested at the house on Wembley Way. Spurrier said Simmons declined to make a statement and requested an attorney.
Spurrier said the next day, an anonymous tip came in about a gun that was believed to be the murder weapon and that was under a storage building in the trailer park in Browns Valley. He said they knew from the statement by Chris Scott (who lived in the house on Wembley Way and who testified Wednesday) that Simmons had been in the area where the gun was later found.
Spurrier said there were only 25-30 residences in the trailer park, and not all of them had storage buildings. He said they “essentially made contact with nobody” when they knocked on doors.
Spurrier said he then left the area for another obligation, and during that time DCSO Detective Jared Ramsey found a Glock 9mm inside a plastic bag under a storage building. (According to testimony earlier this week, that building was located just a few feet from a trailer that Simmons and others went to shortly after the shooting.)
According to Spurrier, detectives did not go back to the trailer park to identify who all lived in the trailers and collect statements from everyone.
Kuegel also asked about the scene at the emergency room. Spurrier said he never went there but was informed about what happened, and he was specifically asked about the victims’ families being allowed to touch the bodies.
The defense team has previously raised concerns and called the scene contaminated. Spurrier said he had no concerns about what happened, saying no testimony from the medical examiner or lab reports identified any issues with their testing or analysis. He said it’s also not uncommon to allow families to see loved ones in that situation.
Much of the defense team’s questions centered around trying to discredit the witnesses due to them having partially different accounts of certain details along with the fact some of them initially gave little or no information but came forward later.
Spurrier said enough details from various testimonies matched up and were also backed up by evidence such as call logs and phone locations to lend credibility to the witnesses.
The defense also keyed in on there being no scientific evidence or records directly tying Simmons to the gun. Spurrier again said while that was true, the testimonies and other evidence lined up and all pointed to Simmons as the shooter.