For the third time in as many years, I'm preparing to go back into a Brazos County courtroom to blog a trial, another one involving a pair of murders, the alleged killer's life on the line as well.
Monday, May 10 marks the beginning of the trial of John Thuesen. It was March 6, 2009 that authorities allege Thuesen gunned down his ex-girlfriend, Rachel Joiner, and her brother, Travis. The two were living together in College Station, each attending Texas A&M.
Now 26 years old, Thuesen saw combat in Iraq as a Marine, this between stints of enrollment at Blinn College. The Bellville resident was arrested in 2007 in Waller County, where authorities say he had been stalking another ex, and was possibly violent with her. But the Waller County district attorney's office says the family asked for the stalking charges to be dropped, hoping Thuesen could turn his life around. He was convicted of a public intoxication charge in relation to those circumstances, that going with a DUI and a DWI conviction in 2001 and 2002 respectively.
It wasn't too many hours after my last trial blog ended -- the capital murder conviction and death penalty sentence of Christian Olsen -- that Thuesen allegedly killed a 21- and 23-year-old. Saturday, I was humbled to receive an award from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters for Best Online/Special Content for the Olsen trial live blog. I also received one from TAPB for the P. David Romei trial blog the year before, but I find myself more proud of the Olsen trial coverage than anything I've done in my brief career so far.
At the same time, I don't relish having to do another blog. The images I saw with the Olsen trial (two women brutally murdered) and the stories I heard (children crushed by the loss of a mother...a mother and father dismayed by the actions of a child) haven't left me, and likely won't. And what are we to see and hear in this case? Fatal gunshot wounds and the pain of loved ones lost. These things keep me up at night...imagine being a family member or friend of the victims or the alleged killer.
Authorities say Thuesen admitted to the murders. He was reportedly the one who called 9-1-1 following the shooting of the two students from Eldorado, and was still on the scene when authorities arrived. If a jury is convinced of the above when/if given the chance to deliberate, the question becomes whether Thuesen should die for his crimes. Questions of his mental state before and after his time at war would undoubtedly be at the forefront. How familiar will we become with PTSD if we reach a punishment phase...and I cannot emphasize "if" enough.
By order of the judge, no cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during this trial, so I hope you'll join me here at KBTX.com as we go on an emotional rollercoaster starting May 10. It's my hope that we provide you the most comprehensive coverage of a trial involving an incident that shocked this community, a trial that will surely provide more twists and turns and real human drama, all centered around two lives lost, and one more on the line.