OPELIKA, Ala (WRBL) – Testimony continues in the Capital Murder trial of a man accused of kidnapping, burglarizing, and murdering an Auburn University graduate in 2006. Thursday, jurors heard testimony from a former co-worker and friend of the defendant, Derrill Richard Ennis, who testified Ennis made disturbing comments about strangling a girl in Auburn.
The bombshell testimony came from Terry Booth, a former coworker of Ennis. They worked together around 2009 at a South Carolina SAMs Club. Booth testified the conversation happened at a sports bar about three years after 24-year-old Lori Ann Slesinski vanished from her Auburn mobile home in 2006.
“Prosecutor: Did you ask him about why he left Auburn, Alabama?
Prosecutor: And what did he say?
Booth: He said he had gotten into some trouble and he had to get out of town, and he also said he had to take care of some business that he had to strangle a EXPLETIVE (B-word).
Prosecutor: He said strangle a EXPLETIVE (B-word)
Booth: Yes, sir.
Prosecutor: What else did he say about her?
Booth: He said that they were acquaintances and that he had a relationship with her, but she didn’t want to have anything to do with him, and he was a little upset about that.
Prosecutor: And he said he strangled her?
Prosecutor: Did he provide, not necessarily an exact location but where it may have happened?
Booth: No, he just made a remark about where it may have happened.
Prosecutor: And what was that remark?
Booth: That she was a white piece of trailer park trash.”
Prosecutors have said Ennis was romantically obsessed with Slesinski, but she only wanted to be friends.
Booth says years later, when he saw an article about Ennis’ arrest in the Slesinski case, he called Auburn police and told them about his conversation with Ennis. Under cross-examination, Booth confirmed to Ennis’ defense attorney he had been convicted in a fraud case.
Meanwhile, testimony from several state witnesses connected Ennis to physical evidence in the disappearance; including a gas can found near Slesinksi’s burned-out vehicle, a rolled-up cigarette butt found near the burning car, rugs missing from Slesinki’s mobile home, and a Galileo glass thermometer Slesinki’s mother had given to Lori Ann for Christmas. Slesinski testified the thermometer was discovered missing from her daughter’s mobile home after she vanished. Her mother also testified a sofa pillow was missing.
Abram Sissons, Ennis’ roommate around 2007 in Huntsville, testified he asked Ennis to move out after a concerning google search Sissons did turned up some information regarding Ennis. The state did not question Sissons about he found concerning about the Google search. Sissons testified he stayed with his girlfriend the night he asked Ennis to move out, and the following day asked police meet him at the apartment to make sure Ennis was gone, and if he weren’t, a police officer would be there. Sissons says his apartment was trashed, but Ennis had moved out.
“It was trashed; things were broken, scattered everywhere, and the stove was on. I turned it off. There was a glass cup with liquid residue in it with something hanging out of it that had been burned,” Sissons testified.
Sissons testified Ennis left stuff behind, including three rugs. Sissons testified Ennis told him one rug belonged to Lori Ann. Sissions says he reached out to law enforcement officers in Alabama and met with Auburn police. Sissons says he gave detectives the rugs, some clothes Ennis had left behind, and a pillow. Sissions also testified he had seen the Galileo glass thermometer in Ennis’s possession at another home Ennis had lived in before the two moved in together.
In 2006 Jeremy Brooks worked with Ennis at the Auburn Bowling Ally. Brooks testified Ennis spoke about writing a letter to Slesinsk describing his romantic feelings for her. Brooks testified Ennis’ body language told him giving Slesinski the letter had not gone as planned. Brooks testified on June 9th,shortly before Lori Ann vanished, Brooks said Ennis called him, which was unusual, and told him he had run out of gas. Brooks testified he grabbed one of three gas cans they kept at the bowling alley, filled it up, and met Ennis at a local church in Auburn.
“He asked me if I could pour the gas into his car for him and could he keep the can; I told him absolutely not, you could pour the gas in…I needed the can back because it didn’t belong to me. The car cranked right up…that seemed odd to me because I work with cars, and I know if you run out of gas, your car is not going to start up right away because it takes a bit for the gas to get into the lines,” testified Brooks.
Brooks testified he returned the gas can to work. On June 13th, when Lori’s vehicle was found burning near the bowling ally on Dekalb Street, investigators testified they found a gas can in the woodline near the burning car. They also found a rolled-up cigarette butt near the burn site. Brooks testified police asked him about the gas can, and he told police one of the gas cans was missing from the bowling ally. In front of the jury, Brooks identified the gas can found near the burning car as the one he believed was missing from the bowling alley where he worked with Ennis. Brooks also testified Ennis tried to sell him several items weeks after Lori Ann vanished, like a motorcycle and disks. Brookes testified he believed Ennis was attempting to liquidate and get cash.
Late Thursday afternoon, a forensic investigator testified DNA located on the rolled-up cigarette butt found near the burning vehicle came back as a positive match for Rick Ennis. At least two witnesses testified Ennis was known to smoke cigarettes, and he liked to roll his own tobacco smokes.
Prosecutors are expected to wrap up their case possibly by Friday. Then it will be the defense team for Ennis to start their topic and call witnesses. We are unsure Ennis will take the stand in his own defense. Lori Ann’s body has never been located.