Fla. man denies role in killings

Trull gives testimony at sentencing hearing


March 29, 2001|By Ludmilla Lelis | Ludmilla Lelis,ORLANDO SENTINEL

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Gazing at the men and women who convicted him of murder, Jonathan Trull testified yesterday that he didn't stab Maryland visitors Matthew Wichita, Kevans Hall II or Seth Qubeck in April 1998.

"I ain't the one who done this," the 30-year-old man said. The jury will recommend whether he deserves a death sentence.

Trull disputed much of the testimony offered during the nine-week-long trial, even challenging the account of Qubeck, who survived the attack.

Trull, the oldest of the three brothers accused in the slayings, was the only one convicted of murder in the deaths of Hall, 23, and Wichita, 21, and for the attempted murder of Qubeck, 21, all of Columbia. His brothers, Christopher, 27, and Joshua, 20, were found guilty of aggravated assault and aggravated battery. "I'm very grateful that my brothers beat it," he said. "I thought a million nights about how I could prove I didn't do it."

He offered some remorse, adding: "I'll always regret it. I'll always regret what everybody did. It should have never happened. It was totally uncalled for."

He offered explanations for the nighttime attack by him, his brothers, and several friends at a New Smyrna Beach condominium.

Admitted fighting

He admitted fighting with Qubeck, but denied stabbing him.

Qubeck testified that he was knocked down and felt terrible pain, feeling the first stab wounds pierce his back.

"What he testified to isn't right," Trull said about Qubeck. "He didn't get stabbed when he was right on the ground."

Trull told the jury that Neil Kirkland, who pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his testimony, stabbed Qubeck as the fight continued.

He also said that Jim Kirkland, another attacker who testified against the Trulls, stabbed Wichita in the neck with a piece of broken glass.

Several feet away

During the trial, officials testified that the only broken glass at the scene was found several feet from the where the stabbing occurred.

Trull didn't deny that Wichita's blood had soaked his hair and covered his face and chest. However, Trull said that happened not because he stabbed Wichita, but because Wichita ran into him immediately after the stabbing.

"It freaked me out. I never had so much blood on me," Trull said. "I didn't know if he had AIDS."

On Tuesday, Trull's mother, Pamela Trull, described the family's hard-luck life, being poor, having to move two or three times a year and having an alcoholic, gambling, absentee husband.

Some successes

Jonathan Trull, born when his parents were teen-agers, echoed her testimony yesterday, but highlighted some of the better parts of his life - his brief career in supermarket management, his success as a wrestler in high school and his hard work at an Oak Hill fish house.

Assistant State Attorney Noah McKinnon tried to use some of that background against him. "You were skilled with a knife. You were skilled with grappling and tackling," McKinnon said.

"So you say that makes me a killer," Trull responded.

"I'm saying you had the skills," McKinnon answered back.

"Every one of them boys could have done it," Trull replied.

Testimony is expected to end today, possibly giving the jury a chance to begin deliberations this afternoon.

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