BY LEANN DILBECK & JACLYN ROSE –
The prosecution rested its case on day 3 of the Fink 1st degree murder trial but not before jurors heard testimony from Fink’s mother, who had been subpoenaed to appear and failed to do so on Tuesday.
Grace Fink took the stand just after 9 a.m. this morning and testified to the court of her daughter’s age being 17, although in reality she is 18. Grace suffers from both Lupus and COPD and testified that she takes 10 mg of Valium per day.
She described Cheyenne’s mood on the morning of December 3 as being quiet, staying mostly in her room, which was a stark contrast to the day prior when she said Cheyenne had been very angry and irritable. She noted that Cheyenne regularly listened to hard rock music, namely Marilyn Manson, through her earphones. The mother would later contribute Cheyenne’s accusations of her father raping her as being from the influence of the music.
She said Cheyenne came into the living room and announced that she was going for a walk. Grace asked her to stay because she was sick but said Cheyenne left anyway for approximately 20 minutes and when she returned was out of breath. She said Cheyenne was still pleasant and the two discussed what was for dinner and mentioned that Cheyenne threw something in the washing machine. At that point, she said she saw the cut on Cheyenne’s arm.
During cross-examination by the defense, Grace, again, stated her daughter was 17. She spoke of her daughter’s admissions into mental hospitals, citing she had spent 9 months of the last 2 years in them.
Grace testified that Cheyenne moved into her brother’s room after his death and shared that Cheyenne had heard her brother choking the night of his death but that she (Grace) did not blame her for not checking on him. She spoke of the differences in Cheyenne following her brother’s death, describing her as “anxious…angry,” and that she would cry for hours. She said that at age 13, Cheyenne began speaking about seeing things and hearing voices. She also spoke of suicide attempts that led to her pursuing professional counseling.
She shared with jurors an incident that occurred when Cheyenne was 16 when her father observed her taking apart a computer because she believed people were listening to her and that the computer was broadcasting her thoughts, demonstrating the paranoid behavior referenced in earlier testimony on Tuesday.
She said in 2012 following her last stay in a mental hospital, Cheyenne “had a good, happy, go-lucky life,” all that summer, until September. She said her meds were no longer helping her and were making her sick. Cheyenne’s father took her for her medical appointment and that her meds were changed in November. The meds help to control Cheyenne’s behaviors but Cheyenne believed she was better and stopped taking them around Thanksgiving 2012. The result, Grace testified, was a dramatic difference in her behavior, saying she became “over-anxious” and “snapped a lot.” She said Cheyenne assaulted her dad a week before Cole’s death when she struck him with a cup of hot water because she thought he had said something to her but he had not.
The mother had only become aware of Cheyenne’s cutting issues just prior to Cole’s death.
Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner redirected and asked Grace about an incident when Cheyenne was transported to the hospital. The mother believed Cheyenne to have stolen 20 Valium. She said Cheyenne was furious she had gone through her room and began choking her.
She said Cheyenne frequently cried and complained of hearing voices. Grace requested Father Norbert Rapport to come and bless the home and to pray for her.
Loyd Cole’s daughter-in-law, Michelle Cole, was then called to the stand by Riner. Michelle testified that she had been married to Steve for 29-years and described the victim as a talkative and spry man for his age. He was hard of hearing from serving in an artillery unit during the Korean War.
Some of the most compelling testimony given was an audio recording of Fink during questioning by Elena Cannon, who serves as an Investigator for the Arkansas State Police Crimes Against Children. Her interview with Fink was recorded by Neal Thomas and Mike May. Notable items from that recording were that Fink stated her father never raped her but that she dreamt it. Fink said she wanted to die. She said her parents slept in the living room and she decided to take a walk at 9:30 a.m. She said she cut her arm and came back to take a shower. Her dad had told her that the next time she cut herself she would have to go back to the hospital. Fink said she changed shirt but was wearing the same shorts and added, “I felt like I was in a daze,” when walking home. Fink said that a cop had told her the blood trail went down to a ditch and there was a man dead. She said she didn’t kill him or see him.
At the conclusion of the recording, Riner questioned Cannon on Fink’s demeanor during the interview. Cannon said there was no break in communication and that she knew exactly what happened.
Cindy Martin, a 911 Dispatcher for the Mena Police Department also testified on behalf of the prosecution of overhearing a phone conversation after Fink was in custody in which she angrily said, “I told you to wash those clothes!”
Prosecuting Attorney Andy Riner then rested his case before the Honorable J.W. Looney. The defense made several motions, including one for dismissal, citing failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Riner reminded Looney of sworn testimony from State Crime Lab officials that found DNA evidence that proved Cole’s blood to be on the murder weapon and Fink’s clothing. Judge Looney dismissed all motions.
Dr. Kevin Price, a psychiatrist for Western Arkansas Counseling, was the first to be called by Public Defender Joseph Tobler. He saw Fink on October 8, 2012 and testified that the number of medications Fink was taking “scared me.” He said that he had never seen a girl that young with that much medicine. He said because there were no major problems with the meds, no changes were made, other than Fink wanting to discontinue two and he permitted it.
Price again saw Fink on November 28, 2012 and that she had stopped taking medicine. Price said she seemed more calm and less stressed. Among the meds discontinued were a strong antipsychotic and a mood stabilizer. He noted that the doses of some of the meds Fink was taking were above the recommended dosages and suggested that it would be better and safer to be monitored in a hospital with such high dosages.
Price considered Fink to be mentally ill and medicine would be required to maintain her stability. He considered her to be at a moderate/chronic risk of harm to herself or others.
During cross-examination, Price stated that Fink was not having auditory hallucinations during her November 28 visit with him. Riner questioned why Price would allow her to be off her meds even though he considered her to be “seriously mentally ill.”
The defense then called Father Norbert Rapport, who had been the pastor for St. Agnes for 11 years and knew the Fink family. He testified on the tremendous impact the death of Fink’s brother had on the family, particularly Cheyenne and Grace.
He spoke of the visit to the Fink home to bless it and pray for Cheyenne. He testified that he sensed there was a demonic spirit there but in a different way than what Cheyenne experienced. He referenced her paranoia.
Dr. Ken Light, a professor at the University of Arkansas for 35 years, in the field of Pharmacology, reviewed the police reports and Dr. Price’s notes. Light first explained to jurors that when Fink discontinued taking the antipsychotic medication, psychotic symptoms will reoccur and the same with the mood stabilizer medication that was discontinued, rapid mood swings will reoccur.
During cross-examination, Riner questioned why the toxicology report for Fink showed both of the medications being present in her blood. Riner also asked Light about cannabinoid, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana, also being positive on toxicology. Light explained that cannabinoid interferes with the brain and normal neuro-communication activities and that in extremely high doses can cause hallucinations. Light added, “There is no such thing as medicinal marijuana.”
During redirect by Tolbert, Light discussed the presence of cannabinoid in other substances, such as Hemp oil or lotion.
The defense then called a long list of friends and parishioners from St. Agnes church that testified about Fink’s dramatic change in behavior after the loss of her brother, her common complaint of hearing voices, paranoia, depression. Jennifer Burnett, who gave Fink a ride home from church the day prior to the murder, testified that Fink shared with her that she felt terrible because they had changed her meds.
Court adjourned just after 4 p.m. to reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Pulse will continue to follow the case.
Links to prior stories may be found here: