BY LEANN DILBECK, JACLYN ROSE & MELANIE BUCK –
Disturbing testimony was given on day 2 of the Cheyenne Fink murder trial along with a defense motion for a mistrial.
Testimony was also expected today by Fink’s mother, Grace, who was subpoenaed to appear but did not. Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey attempted to retrieve her from the residence but Grace never made an appearance in court today and no other details regarding her failure to appear is known at this time or whether she will testify on Wednesday.
Arkansas State Police Trooper Neal Thomas was the first to testify in Polk County Circuit Court Tuesday morning. He testified in detail of the security of the crime scene and the collection of evidence and DNA on the morning of December 3, 2012.
He testified that the cut marks through Cole’s jacket and found on his hands were consistent with someone fighting off an attacker and spoke of the blood trail that led to the 1007 9th Street residence. Multiple photographs were presented to jurors. He described the condition of Fink’s room and that a single blade knife was discovered under her pillow with blood stains present on the sheets of the bed where the knife had previously been laid. Two additional knives were found in her room as well.
A towel and clothing, including shoes, black lace fingerless gloves, and undergarments, were all collected from her room and the laundry room that had blood present and were processed to be submitted to the State Crime Lab. The Arkansas State Crime Lab verified through DNA that cold blood found on the knife, under the pillow and also on Fink’s clothing matched that of the victim.
Fink was given her Miranda rights and taken into custody for further questioning. Thomas testified that Fink was able to clearly communicate and noted that she was particularly inquisitive.
During cross-examination by the defense, Thomas was asked about the physical condition of Fink. He spoke of self-imposed cigarette wounds on her wrist that were scabbed over and words that were “etched” onto her legs. “True love” was on the inside of her left calf and appeared red around it. Thomas suggested it to be fairly recent. On her right calf, the words “raped by daddy” were present and appeared very red and more recent.
Two officials from the State Crime Lab, Krista Black and Tori Melvin, provided expert testimony and confirmed blood samples taken to be that of Cole and Fink. Samples from Fink’s fingernails were also consistent with Cole’s and no foreign DNA was found.
The doctor who performed the autopsy testified that among the multiple stab wounds on the body, 18 wounds were on the front of the chest. He testified that many of the wounds occurred after Cole’s heart had stopped beating and that he was immobilized.
Retired Sgt. Dolores Hutcheson took the stand and testified about transporting Fink to the hospital for treatment of her self-imposed knife wound on her arm. Fink said that she had cut her arm at approximately 9:30 a.m. because she was missing her brother who had overdosed 6 years prior. An audio recording taken from the dash cam was played for jurors. In it, Fink discussed coherently her medications and diagnoses. She also explained her “cutting,” saying that every day she put a mark on her arms for her brother. “When you cut yourself, it releases endorphins in the brain which causes a natural high.”
Following the audio recording played, jurors were dismissed and the defense made a motion for a mistrial due to a reference of Fink’s marijuana use that was played in the recording that was suppose to be excluded from trial. Judge Looney denied the motion, saying that the reference was barely audible.
Hutcheson’s testimony continued. During her medical treatment, Fink asked the doctor to line-up her dragon tattoo before putting in the stitches so that it didn’t look bad. Fink also inquired as to how many stab wounds the victim had and said one of the other officer’s had spoken to her about the victim.
During cross-examination, the defense questioned Hutcheson about a previous report filed on March 9, 2010, in which Fink’s father was attempting to subdue Cheyenne to prevent her from cutting herself.
Deputy Ronnie Richardson took the stand following Hutcheson and testified that he also was familiar with Fink prior to December 3, 2012 through the ALE classroom in Mena High School. He assisted Mena Police Department the day of the incident and said he was not actively involved in asking questions. He testified that Fink said directly to him, “I don’t want to go to jail for a murder I didn’t commit.” She also began asking him and Chief Deputy Scott Sawyer if she was going to jail or a mental hospital. He said parents were prevented from re-entering the home but the mother continued to try to re-enter.
The prosecution did not rest its case because Fink’s mother had failed to appear, the defense was allowed to call Dr. Lynn Thomas from Pinnacle Point who had treated Fink in early 2012.
She was admitted to Pinnacle on January 9, 2012 for psychosis – hearing voices, believed she was reincarnated prophet and could hear/talk to Charles Manson and Shirley Temple. The doctor testified that she was able to recall objects and read words backwards. She did not consider Fink to be malingering and said almost within a day, she was ready to leave. She diagnosed her with a Mood Disorder with Psychosis.
Fink was re-admitted on January 25, 2012, again for hearing voices, unable to differentiate between reality, believing she had mystical powers. Thomas did not change the diagnosis and discharged her on February 4, 2012.
Fink was again re-admitted for her third stay at Pinnacle from February 11 to February 23, 2012 for physical aggression to family and self. This time her behavior had escalated to yelling profanities, punching, and burning herself. Books of spells and witchcraft were discovered in her room, Fink telling Thomas, “I can’t take it anymore. The demons are after me.” Thomas testified that Fink would appear alert and able to interact.
Prosecution questioned Thomas about behaviors following marijuana abuse. Thomas testified that in her professional opinion, marijuana would have to be present in the system for psychosis from marijuana to occur. Fink showed only to have valium present in her system. Thomas testified that other patients were scared of Fink.
Discharge papers from January 17, 2012 reference “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” consistent with many behaviors displayed by Fink of blaming others, violent, impulsive, panic attacks, delusional and frequent lying. When prosecution questioned why Fink was discharged and re-admitted on February 4 demonstrating the same behaviors, asking if she had been cured, Thomas’ reply was that “I probably got in a hurry and missed that and psychosis.”
Upon being discharged on February 21, 2012, Thomas testified that Fink did not appear to be an imminent threat to others at that point.
Trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.