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State witnesses connect murder weapon to Arabie

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WACO -

State prosecutors on Wednesday showed the court a video of John Carl Arabie, Jr., being questioned at the Waco Police Department after the murder of elderly Waco resident David Lloyd Sanders in October 2011.

Arabie is facing one count of murder.

The recording shows Det. Kristina Woodruff asking Arabie if he killed anyone. Arabie becomes heated, yelling and pointing at Woodruff, insisting he was simply walking to buy beer at a store when he was arrested. He denies even owning a gun.

State prosecutors claim Arabie bought a 1983 Mercury Grand Marquis from Sanders and had car problems, before heading to Sanders' home in the 4100 block of Hubby Ave., knocking on the door and shooting Sanders to death. 

Earlier on Wednesday morning, Sgt. Jason Lundquist testified another officer spotted Arabie in the parking lot of a local business right behind Sanders' house soon after the murder. They then arrested Arabie and found a .380 handgun and a magazine nearby.

Neither the gun nor the magazine was covered in leaves, dust or dew, and they appeared to have just been placed there, Lundquist testified.

Lundquist said he found the Grand Marquis Arabie bought about nine houses away. They keys were inside, the windows were down and an open can of malt liquor was on the seat.

Lundquist said Arabie's speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol. Woodruff agreed she smelled alcohol on Arabie's breath.

Lundquist told the court Arabie denied doing anything to two girls who were walking nearby when he was arrested. Lundquist considered that statement a story that didn't add up but was intended to distract police from what he really did. The girls told police they had no idea what was going on, Lundquist testified.

Witness Kim Holmes, the Sanders' pastor, took the stand, saying she helped out the family by cleaning up the blood from the murder scene after police left, and she actually found the bullet police weren't able to locate.

The state also called on witness Cassey Allen, a Department of Public Safety firearms analyst, who tested a bullet and a cartridge casing from the murder scene. Those, Allen said, were both fired from the .380 gun found nearby.

Erin Casmus, a DPS forensic scientist who examines DNA, then told state prosecutors she compared DNA swabs from the gun to buckle swabs from Arabie. She was able to match the DNA on the gun to Arabie's DNA profile.

Eric Murry, owner and operator of Midas in Waco, testified he performed an oil change and inspection of Arabie's Grand Marquis. Murry said Arabie became increasingly agitated as Murry told Arabie about the problems with his car, including loose steering components and other less urgent problems that "were not a whole lot."

Attorneys asked Woodruff about Sanders' wife, Joy, and her description of a person at their door who was a black man wearing a black shirt and white sweat pants. Arabie is not black but was wearing those clothes. Woodruff said she looked at an officer through the peephole in the door and wasn't able to see his face well but could determine his clothing.

Both Woodruff and Lundquist were skeptical of Arabie's alibi about walking from Cumberland Ave. to a distant store to buy beer. They both said he would have walked by another store that sells alcohol on the way, and he already seemed drunk. They testified, by the time Arabie was arrested, the store he was heading to wouldn't be selling alcohol anymore.

Some family members on Wednesday turned away as graphic pictures were shown of Sanders lying on the floor of his home in a pool of his own blood with a bullet hole through his head.

Judge Matt Johnson dismissed the jury and instructed them to return at 9:00 on Thursday morning, when the state will finish calling their witnesses and rest.

Beforehand, at 8:30 a.m., defense attorneys will talk to Judge Johnson about Arabie's request to change out of his striped jail jumpsuit and into an outfit of his choice, including a white, floor-length coat.

Judge Johnson said the coat cannot have any message on it, but he also said the courthouse deputies would have to determine the coat doesn't pose a security threat.

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