Update: Jury selected in Poncho Delgado murder trial in Jonesborough

Becky Campbell • Mar 25, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Editor's Note: Press Staff Writer Becky Campbell is Tweeting live from the Poncho Delgado murder trial. Follow her on Twitter @CampbellinCourt.


5:28 p.m. - Wrapping up for today; I'll have a full story on our website later this evening and I'll be back tomorrow with all the courtroom action.

5:06 p.m. - Judge will let defense do cross examination today so Campbell can return home to Harrogate.

4:54 p.m.- As for there being a fire in the house, Campbell said "this man did not breathe a significant amount of smoke."

4:53 p.m. - Curtis had .26 blood alcohol content at time of death.

4:37 p.m. - Curtis had two stab wounds to right lung, 22 stab wounds to left lung.

4:35 p.m. - Campbell said Curtis had total of 14 stab wounds to heart and large vessels to heart; 'They would all be life threatening."

4:29 p.m. - Campbell is going through diagrams of all of Curtis' wounds.

4:13 p.m. - Curtis had multiple superficial cuts and multiple deep stab wounds.

4:08 p.m. - Campbell said autopsy was complex because of “number of injuries”

4:05 p.m. - State's 6th witness, Dr. Teresa Campbell, the forensic pathologist who performed autopsy on Robert Curtis.

3:45 p.m.- ADA Brooks didn't challenge that testimony with re-direct; Little released and judge took a break.

3:45 p.m. - Little said Racanelli told her he and Delgado went to Curtis' to collect money Curtis owed Racanelli, aka Mookie.

3:40 p.m. - Bowman keeps pointing out that Little gave statements to police when she thought it would help her get out of trouble.

3:35 p.m. - About a year ago, Little's nephew Robert Racanelli told her he and Poncho killed Curtis; Little didn't report that to the police;

3:23 p.m. - "You thought it would sound better," Bowman asked; Little said, "That was just my opinion of what I thought it was.

3:22 p.m,. - Little told police she thought Delgado had blood under his fingernails; on stand she said "they were nasty."

3:15 p.m. - Bowman is pushing the issue about Little offering information to police about her brother coming to her house after Curtis' death in order to get a break on her probation violation in 2008

3:05 p.m. - cross examination by Jim Bowman; asks Little about dressing up her brother "like a girl." so he wouldn't get caught until he sobered up; Little said she was just trying to help him;

3:00 p.m. - Little said Delgado had two dagger-type knives, one with broken tip; said he threw them in sewer.

2:51 p.m. - Little knew her brother was wanted, she saw his photo on the news; didn't call 911; "I wanted him to sober up," before he turned himself in.

2:48 p.m. - Delgado showed up at Little's home on Winter Street May 26, 2006, the day after Curtis was killed; 'He said he messed up, that he needed my help. He said he killed a man.'

2:45 p.m. - Little said there are "16 of us." all by the same mother, but different fathers.

2:45 p.m. State's next witness is June Lopez Little, Delgado's half sister.

2:40 p.m. - Delgado just rolled back in courtroom; he's in a wheelchair due to numerous health problems.

2:30 p.m. - We're on a break; jury should be back soon.

2:17 p.m. - Cross examination by Jim Bowman; Hale said he drinks anywhere from 12 pack to 24 beers a day; doesn't remember how much he drank that day.

2:12 p.m. - Hale said Delgado came to see him May 25, 2007, asked for a pair of shoes; Hale gave him an old pair of work shoes and Delgado left.

2:12 p.m. - Delgado's cousin, James Allen Hale, is next witness; he's very frank, hard to understand, said he's an alcoholic, drinks from time he gets up until he passes out;

2:00 p.m. - Peck testifies about her drug use at the time; said she's 3 1/2 years sober; she didn't want to be labeled a snitch.

1:40 p.m. - She said her adopted brother, who she was staying with, gave Delgado fresh clothes; Bolton points out that Peck has never told anyone that before today.

1:40 p.m. - Peck said cops told her she'd be arrested if she didn't talk to them about having seen Delgado; she didn't want to risk losing her 12-year-old daughter so she agreed to talk to them.

1:30 p.m. - Peck said she didn't call 911 because she didn't want to get involved; she liked the Delgado family, didn't want to make trouble for anyone.

1:25 p.m. - Peck said Delgado was covered in blood; asked for a change of clothes.

1:25 p.m. - Peck: "He said he cut him open....he said he torched the place."

1:20 p.m. - State's 3rd witness, Bonnie Peck, who lived in Tyler Apts. at the time; said Delgado walked up and said he'd killed a man who had messed with his nephew.

11:55 a.m .- Jury's lunch is ready, recess until around 1:15 p.m.

11:52 a.m. - Bowman focuses on accelerants in a fire and lack of in this one.

11:50 a.m. - Defense cross examination by Jim Bowman.

11:48 a.m. - Accelerants not required to start a fire, especially with combustible materials inside a house; accelerants would have created faster growing fire, Ratliff said.

11:48 a.m. - Lab tests on scene evidence indicated no ignitable liquids at scene

11:45 a.m. - Ratliff found two areas of fire; one in back bedroom, one in a front bedroom; fires were intentionally set, she determined.

11:35 a.m. - State witness #2: Johnson City Fire Marshal Lori Ratliff.

11:30 a.m. - Jury shown first photos of scene; two depicted body of Robert Curtis; a woman in courtroom became emotional and ran out.

11:29 a.m. - When door opened, lights from firetrucks hit the body, Sells saw lots of blood so he “established a crime scene.”

11:28 a.m. - Sells said zero visibility inside house; he got on floor, saw a pair of sneakers, realized it was person; began working way up the body which was blocking the door. sat him up and opened front door.

11:22 a.m. - Opening statements finished, state's first witness is Johnson City firefighter Russell Sells, he was one of three enter house on fire at East Fairview on May 25, 2006.

11:20 a.m. - Bolton: State's case is based on gossip.

11:18 a.m. - Bolton: He walked into the police station, held his hands up in the air, said ‘my name is poncho Delgado. I think you are looking for me.’ He didn’t go in there because he was guilty. He went in there because they were looking for him and he was not guilty.

11:16 a.m. -Bolton: "We agree. A brutal, malicious wrongful death occurred that night."

11:15 a.m. Defense attorney Donna Bolton gives opening statements: says jury will hear from police, firefighters; "I can tell you right now, you can believe every word these men and women have to say; their words are honorable."

11:10 a.m. - Brooks: Witness who lived at Tyler Apts. will testify that Poncho came by the complex, had blood on him and “he was describing, according to her, having killed a man.”

11:07 a.m. - Brooks: Victim also had numerous defensive wounds. A death is a death, a murder is a murder. but in this case, the volume of injuries is going to be important;

11 a.m. - Opening statements; Brooks asked jury remember some numbers: 22, number of stab wounds to victim's lung; 12, number of stab wounds to victim's heart.

11 a.m.- DA Dennis Brooks read indictment; count 1, first degree murder; count 2, arson; defense pleads not guilty on Delgado’s behalf

10:55 a.m. - Judge Robert Cupp is presiding over the case; he's back on bench and jury is in.

10:40 a.m.- Waiting on jury to return; several members of Delgado's family in courtroom; could be interesting, there's bad blood there.

10:22 a.m. — Jury selected. Judge takes recess before opening statements will start.

10:17 a.m. — Attorneys submit second round of challenges; two excused, to more called to box.

10:17 a.m. — The homicide occurred May 2006; Poncho Delgado charged with stabbing Robert Curtis to death, setting house on fire.

10:11 a.m. — It appears Poncho is giving his attorneys input in who to keep, who to toss from panel.

10:10 a.m. — Poncho's defense team includes lead attorney Jim Bowman and co-counsel Donna Bolton.

10:10 a.m. — Attorneys questions to panel going much faster now; getting ready for second round of challenges.

10:08 a.m. — Attorneys submit first round of challenges, toss three jurors from panel

9:53 a.m. — One tattoo says: Death before dishonor

9:53 a.m. — Defense atty Jim Bowman asks jurors if they've wondered about Poncho's face tattoos.

9:46 a.m. — The three excused are a former police official from Fla., a former records clerk, a man who said he can't be fair. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com

9:46 a.m. — Judge excuses three people for cause.

9:19 a.m. — Jury selection has started in Poncho Delgado's murder trial; 14 people in box, parties are being introduced.


Two jury panels are scheduled to appear in Washington County Criminal Court today for a murder trial that’s been on the books since 2006.

Poncho Delgado’s trial on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated arson for the May 25, 2006, death of 41-year-old Robert Curtis was most recently scheduled for Feb. 25.

Judge Robert Cupp granted defense attorneys Jim Bowman and Donna Bolton a short delay so they could have forensic tests done on an apparent new piece of evidence that recently surfaced.

Delgado, 44, is accused of stabbing Curtis to death, then setting his East Fairview Avenue home on fire to cover up the killing.

After Curtis’ death, Delgado allegedly told a relative that he killed a man who had been messing with his nephew.

It’s a tangled case that’s already been to trial once — in 2008 — and wrought with delays caused by Delgado’s health, legal issues, lost witnesses and a mistrial.

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