Delgado murder trial wraps for day; closing arguments set for Wednesday

Becky Campbell • Mar 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

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


3:24 p.m. - Jury released; judge and attorneys will continue working to discuss jury instructions.

3:20 p.m.- Jury in courtroom; judge tells panel they'll go home today, return tomorrow for closing arguments and deliberation.

3:17 p.m. - Cupp will give jury option of going all the way down to manslaughter because of evidence of "passion" about Delgado allegedly killing Curtis because he believed he'd messed with his nephew.

3:17 p.m. - Judge Cupp back on bench; he and attorneys are discussing jury instructions.

2:53 p.m. - Defense rests its case; judge calls for recess..

2:51 p.m. - Peck also told Ratliff 'he smelled like gasoline.' Ratliff previously testified, and confirmed just now, that she didn't smell gasoline at the fire scene.

2:50 p.m. - Ratliff: my understanding was his nephew was with Poncho at the apartment.

2:48 p.m.- Defense calls Lori Ratliff back to stand; asks about statement from Bonnie Peck on June 8, 2006; Peck told Ratilff Delgado had on dark t-shirt, white and blue shorts...all covered in blood...his nephew was with him.

2:45 p.m. Defense called Abernathy back to stand; asked about press release sent out at 6 a.m. the day after Curtis' murder; Abernathy had previously testified investigators didn't release much information about incident;

2:40 p.m.: Brooks asked Delgado if he knew what he meant when he said he didn't want to incriminate himself.

Delgado:" I’ve been teased all my life. I really don’t know a lot of what I way…I try to fit in….i try to be tough….i was bullied a lot when I was little….i know I got a mean look to me but I’m not as mean as people think I am."

2:32 p.m. - Delgado said he and cousin James got into it a lot because "he had a racist mouth."

2:24 p.m. - Delgado has been a little emotional on the stand, especially when talking about his intellectual level.

2:24 p.m. - Delgado: 'I can say words and I don't know what they mean. I'm, uh, I (was) in special classes all my life. I'm a dummy."

2:23 p.m. - Bowman asked Delgado why he told Abernathy 'I didn't intend to kill that man,' Delgado said he didn't know why he said that.

2:17 p.m. - Delgado said he went inside police department, put hands in air, was crying and said 'My name is Poncho Juan Delgado. Are you looking for me for murder and arson?' A female told him to have a seat, about 15 minutes later an officer came out and handcuffed, searched him.

2:14 p.m. - Delgado said he could drink 4 or 5 cases of beer a day back in 2006.

2:08 p.m. - Delgado said he never dressed up like a woman, which is what June said in her testimony; he saw his picture on TV news, heard murder and thought "they was saying I was dead."

2:06 p.m. took that woman's car to go get beer but ended up at sister Uhomma's house; hit the curb so left the car there; walked toward sister June's house.

2:03 p.m. - Delgado said he never had a conversation with Peck that night; after getting shoes from cousin, he went toward Keystone; went to "my brother's kids mothers" to find more crack but she didn't have any.

2:00 p.m.- Delgado said he'd met Bonnie Peck about a month before his arrest, said he'd promised her a $50 rock of crack cocaine if she'd give him a ride to Bristol; 'I lied. I didn't have no more.'

1:58 p.m.- Delgado said his cousin gave him boots and he left; said he didn't tell cousin he'd killed someone; the cousin, James Hale, testified Delgado said he'd killed a man.

1:55 p.m. - He said he laid in the bushes and smoked, got high; walked on down the tracks; some dogs chased him and he began running and busted his flip flops so he went toward his cousin's and asked him for some shoes..

1:54 p.m. - Delgado said that night in May 2006 he doesn't remember everything, but that he was walking the railroad tracks toward Dalewood Drive.

1:50 p.m.- Delgado said he's done lots of drugs, drank lot of alcohol; 'I'm dying from it."

1:49 p.m.- Delgado said he didn't kill Curtis, didn't set house on fire, wasn't there when it happened.

1:46 p.m. It looks like Delgado will testify; officers have assisted him to the witness stand; jury will be in on the way in now.

1:39 p.m.- Judge calls for recess while defense discusses next move.

1:28 p.m. - Stanley said it's likely Delgado would compensate in situations where he didn't understand something so as to "fit in" and appear that he did understand.

1:22 p.m.- Cross examination by ADA Dennis Brooks, he asks how long Stanley met with Delgado; it was 3 1/5 hours on one day in 2006.

1:20 p.m. - Living skills were strongest areas; social and communication skills were weakest areas for Delgado.

1:14 p.m.- Delgado scored mid range of borderline intellectual functioning for verbal skills, low end of normal for performance skills.

1:14 p.m. - As Stanley tells jury about Delgado's mental abilities, Delgado has hands over his face, appears to be crying; he's wiping his eyes with a tissue.

1:04 p.m.- Delgado scored "mid-range of intellectual functioning," Stanley said.

12:58 p.m. - Stanley tested Delgado for intelligence, academic ability, adaptive behavior in August 2006.

12:52 p.m.- Stanley is a psychological examiner; works at Greene Valley Developmental Center; examined Delgado.

12:51 p.m.- Jury is back; state rests it's case; defense calls 1st witness, William Stanley.

Even though police found no physical evidence to tie Poncho Delgado to Robert Curtis' 2006 stabbing death, he became the top suspect in Robert Curtis' 2006 stabbing death after a police investigator saw the victim's injuries were consisted with what Delgado allegedly told a witness he'd done.

Johnson City Police Officer Jason Abernathy testified Tuesday during the second day of Delgado's trial. Abernathy was at the crime scene at Curtis' East Fairview Avenue residence late on May 25, 2006, when he learned Delgado had been at Tyler Apartments and told someone he'd killed a man and cut him from his neck to his scrotum.

Abernathy said when he was able to get to Curtis' body after hearing that, and saw that Curtis' had stab wounds all over his torso, including to both sides of his neck.

Delgado showed up at the police station two days after Curtis' death, apparently because he knew investigators were looking for him.

Defense attorney Jim Bowman asked Abernathy about what information was released about the homicide and how Delgado would have known he was a person of interest.

Abernathy said investigators limited what information was released to the media, but police had been asking around about Delgado's whereabouts. When Delgado got to the police station, the video shows him telling Abernathy he wanted an attorney, but a few minutes later said, "I didn't intend to kill that guy. I can tell you that."

Abernathy's supervisor, Lt. Brian Rice, entered the room and reminded Delgado he had asked for an attorney, but if he wanted to tell them what happened that was okay. Delgado again said he didn't intend to kill "that guy."

Bowman also Abernathy about what physical evidence investigators found at the scene to tie Delgado to the killing.

There was "no evidence at scene to link Mr. Delgado to scene," Bowman said. "No sir," Abernathy responded.

Prior to Abernathy's testimony, the jury heard from former JCPD investigator John Sipos, now a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent. He testified about processing the scene for evidence, including collecting blood samples and taking photos.

Jurors saw photos from the crime scene that showed blood spatter in numerous areas around the couch and a large blood stain on the carpet in front of the door.

Judge Robert Cupp broke early for lunch to accommodate a state witness' afternoon schedule. Testimony will resume around 12:45 p.m.


Earlier updates:

11:42 a.m. - Early lunch break today; back in 45 minutes.

11:41 a.m.- Brooks follows up with question about the date of interview; It was May 27, two days after Curtis' death; that would indicate Delgado could have cleaned his fingernails.

11:40 a.m. - Bowman: As you sit here today, there's no physical evidence to connect Mr. Delgado to the scene or to the crime?

Abernathy: No.

11:36 a.m.- Bowman asks Abernathy if any fingernail scrapings were done on Delgado; Abernathy said none to his knowledge.

11:23 a.m.- Abernathy said June and Darius Little took Delgado to police station; he did not talk to her, she didn't tell cops she had information about the homicide.

11:21 a.m. - Abernathy had previously stated cops didn't release much about stabbing to media; Bowman questions him about how Delgado knew police wanted to talk to him, who in community knew details.

11:15 a.m. Cross examination by Jim Bowman.

11:13 a.m.:Delgado: you can go ahead and start asking me questions.

Abernathy; well, uh

Delgado: I didn’t intend to kill that guy. I’ll tell you that right now.

Abernathy: do you want to go ahead and talk to me now

Delgado: I can talk. I don’t want to incriminate myself.

Lt. Brian Rice entered room: You understand you asked for a lawyer so we cannot talk to you; If you want to talk about what happened, explain what happened, we can do that. It’s on youl.

Delgado: I didn’t intend to kill that guy.

11:05 a.m. - Delgado on video while eating his sandwich: 'I'm just glad I'm here now.'; Abernathy: 'Here at the police department?' Delgado: 'Yeah. At least I got that off my back.'

10:59 a.m. - On video, Abernathy reads Miranda Warning to Delgado; Delgado said he wanted to talk to an attorney, signs form indicating he wants lawyer.

10:58 a.m. - Abernathy said Curtis' injuries were consistent with that statement.

10:55 a.m. - Before video, Abernathy testified Delgado became top suspect after officers found witness who said Delgado said he'd cut a man from his scrotum to his neck.

10:55 a.m. - Video from Abernathy and Delgado's conversation playing for jury right now. Delgado said he hadn't eaten in 2 days, been sleeping in the woods; told Abernathy he's an alcoholic, had drank a beer just before going to police department, got sick in parking lot.

10:48 a.m. - Abernathy said Delgado was hungry, so he got a sandwich and chips for him; while Delgado ate, Abernathy sat with him doing paperwork, said Delgado told him, "I didn't mean to kill that man."

10:48 a.m. - Abernathy got called in the night Delgado turned himself in; Delgado asked for an attorney so Abernathy didn't interview him.

10:41 a.m. - Abernathy:" I’m not trying to be ugly, but when you’re trying to find dirt, you go to the dirt pile," so officers began poking around housing projects, particularly Tyler Apts.

10:30 a.m. - Next on stand, Johnson City police officer Jason Abernathy; he was lead investigator in the Delgado case.

10:30 a.m. - We've had a recess; jury will soon watch police interview video with Delgado;

10:07 a.m. - Judge passes photos from crime scene and autopsy to jury;

10:05 a.m. - Bolton asks Sipos if he found any evidence at all to indicate Delgado was involved in the struggle with Curtis; Sipos said he didn't.

10 a.m, - Bolton asks Sipos about why he didn't use what's called a cold water technique, which is when fingerprints are preserved by soot from a fire; Sipos said no surface in house was conducive to that.

9:58 a.m. - Even though the house was burned, the area where Curtis' body was located was not burned; fire was basically contained in bedrooms.

9:56 a.m. - Defense cross examination by Donna Bolton; Sipos agreed with her there was a "violent struggle"

9:52 a.m. - Sipos also pointed out blood spatter on back of front door, on wall beside the door;

941 a.m. - Asst. District Attorney Dennis Brooks presenting photos of crime scene, Sipos explains scene to the jury; first photo shows part of Curtis' body near the front door, large pool of blood nearby.

9:38 a.m. - All blood evidence obtained from scene was tested, determined to be victim Robert Curtis'; 'We did not locate any other DNA.'

9:35 a.m.- Sipos' task was to process scene, collect blood evidence, fingerprints, take photos.

9:25 a.m. - Jury in the box; state calls 7th witness, TBI Agent John Sipos, a former Johnson City police investigator who worked on this case.

9:18 a.m. - Still waiting for jurors to finish their reading;

9:03 a.m. — Delgado listens as attorneys talk to Judge Robert Cupp before the jury comes in.

9 a.m. — Back for day 2 of Poncho Delgado murder trial; jury is in jury room is reading portions of Robert Curtis' autopsy.


Poncho Delgado, 44, is charged with first-degree murder and arson in the May 25, 2006, stabbing death of Robert Curtis. Emergency personnel responded to Curtis’ East Fairview Avenue home that night on a fire call. Prosecutors and investigators said Delgado stabbed Curtis to death, then set his house on fire.-

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos