UPDATE: Cargill's Ex-Husband Says Her Temper Discouraged Him From Keeping Gun
Updated Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:31 p.m. CDT
A visibly shaken Michael West, who was Kim Cargill's first husband and is the father of their oldest son, now 21, responded to a question from prosecutor Matt Bingham about Cargill's capability for violence. Updated Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 10:29 a.m. CDT
"No doubt about it -- that's why I never kept a gun in my house," West responded. The two were married from 1988 to 1992.
Cargill's oldest son, now 21, will take the stand this afternoon to testify in the punishment phase.
Barbara Chamberlain, the step-grandmother of Matt Robinson, testified today in the second day of the punishment phase of the Kimberly Cargill capital murder trial. Robinson was the father of her third son.
Ms. Cargill became angry when she saw that Ms. Chamberlain had picked up some wet pictures of Robinson from the front yard of Ms. Chamberlain's home.
The defendant threw the photos down in the 64-year-old's lap and asked what the grandmother was doing with pictures of her "husband."
Cargill then grabbed Ms. Chamberlain's arm and twisted it, causing a bruise.
Ms. Chamberlain said she kicked Cargill in the air, where she landed on a small side table.
"She asked if I knew she was pregnant, and I told her she probably wasn't anymore," Ms. Chamberlain testified.
By DAYNA WORCHEL
The mother of a Whitehouse woman convicted of capital murder last week cried as she testified Monday about the time her daughter told her she hoped her cancer would come back and that she would die a "lonely, old woman."
Rachel Wilson, Kimberly Cargill's mother, said she paid for her daughter and Ms. Cargill's two younger sons to visit her in Portland, Ore., in 1999, shortly after the birth of Ms. Cargill's youngest son.
Ms. Wilson testified that the two-month- long visit did not go well, and when she asked Ms. Cargill to leave, her daughter told her she hoped her cancer would return and she would die from the disease. Ms. Wilson battled cancer in 1998 and the disease was in remission at the time.
"Like all of us, she has a temper," Ms. Wilson said. "She's easily provoked. It happens very quickly -- like flipping a switch. She's verbally aggressive."
The testimony came in the first day of the punishment phase of the trial for Ms. Cargill, 45. A Smith County jury in the 241st District Court took 2 1/2 hours to convict her Friday. The Smith County District Attorney's Office is seeking the death penalty.
Ms. Cargill, who took the stand in her own defense last week, admitted to dumping the body of her mentally challenged babysitter, Cherry Walker, on County Road 2191 on June 18, 2010, and setting it on fire. Ms. Walker had been subpoenaed that same day to testify against Ms. Cargill in a child custody hearing.
Ms. Cargill testified that Ms. Walker had a seizure while riding in her car that same evening and had died. Ms. Cargill said she panicked and left the body out on the deserted Smith County road where it was discovered on June 19, 2010 by a passerby.
During Monday's testimony, Ms. Wilson said she now has custody of Ms. Cargill's youngest son, now 6, for whom Ms. Walker babysat. She testified about her daughter's history of having a "quick temper," which began to surface during her high school years.
As she wiped tears from her eyes, Ms. Wilson described how her daughter attacked her and tried to choke her in Ms. Wilson's home after she turned a light out in her dining room, where the defendant happened to be sitting at the time.
Ms. Wilson said Ms. Cargill, who was nine months pregnant with her second son at the time, in 1994, followed her into another room into the home and the two had a verbal exchange. "She pushed me against a wall and put her hands around my neck ... I got away and called 911," Ms. Wilson said.
The defendant's mother said she asked for the charges against her daughter to be dismissed because she was nine months pregnant. Ms. Wilson said Kim can be "sweet, loving and giving, but then that switch can turn," she said.
Ms. Wilson testified that she and her husband, Jim Wilson, purchased the home for Ms. Cargill in Whitehouse in 2007. Ms. Cargill told her that one of her sons wanted to play high school football in Whitehouse, but Ms. Wilson later learned that her daughter already had lost custody of the boy to his father, Ms. Wilson testified.
"Kim was good at lying to people and convincing them that something ... is the truth, myself included," Ms. Wilson testified to Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.
Defense attorney Jeff Haas said he would reserve his cross examination of Ms. Wilson. The defense also elected not to make an opening statement.
In his opening statements to the jury, Bingham said the defendant "hurts her children and those closest to her." He detailed numerous instances of Ms. Cargill choking her sons or attempting to choke them when they lived with her. One of the defendant's sons won't call her "mom," but instead will call her by her initials, "K.C."
April Pitts, Ms. Cargill's sister, testified that she and the defendant had never been close growing up. "I was shy and she was demanding and controlling, Ms. Pitts said. She said there was a 2 ½ year age difference between them.
Ms. Pitts testified that she was afraid of her sister and that watching Ms. Cargill become angry was "like seeing the devil -- she can turn on a dime about the littlest of things," Ms. Pitts said in response to questioning from Bingham.
She testified about a 1992 incident in Collin County in which she stayed with Ms. Cargill and her first husband, Mike West. Ms. Pitts said she came inside the home Ms. Cargill shared with West, and that the two were arguing as she held her oldest son, a baby at the time. That son is now 21. As she held the infant, Ms. Cargill kicked holes in the wall, her sister testified.
Ms. Pitts said she tried to leave, but that Ms. Cargill tried to stop her by reaching inside her car and trying to throw the car out of gear. "She didn't know I had a stick shift, so she wasn't able to stop me," Ms. Pitts said.
Defense attorney Brett Harrison asked Ms. Pitts if the two women were half sisters. She replied that they were, and that they didn't go to the same high school.
Other witnesses on Monday included the director of a Whitehouse day care center, where Ms. Cargill brought her now 6-year-old son to pre-school when he was 3. Sharon Rushing echoed other witnesses who said the defendant would "fly off the handle" at the slightest problem, once confronting staff at her school for 15 minutes because she had to take her child home to change for school pictures. Ms. Rushing said notices about the pictures had been posted for several days.
Dr. Sandra Craig, a former clinical psychologist who evaluated Ms. Cargill and West during their child custody dispute, testified that she recommended that West be given sole conservatorship of the couple's son.