Trial begins for man accused in stabbing at Hardin County birthday party

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By Sarah Bennett

Though no one denies Raymond K. Wilson stabbed Gerald Wayne Tharpe on April 8 at a birthday party off Roundtop Road, Wilson’s attorneys intend to ask the jury to find their defendant not guilty when the trial concludes.

Wilson, 52, faces charges of criminal attempt to commit murder, first-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence.

A jury trial in the case began Monday. A panel of seven men and seven women heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense and testimony from four witnesses.

During testimony, lead investigator Detective Sgt. Rex Allaman said the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the incident after Hardin Memorial Hospital officials contacted Hardin County E-911 regarding a patient with a stab wound. Neither attendees at the party nor the victim called police after the altercation.

According to the detective’s testimony, witnesses informed him one of the party-goers, Michael York, “sucker punched” Wilson upon his arrival at the party.

The hit knocked the defendant to the ground and York then turned to Wilson’s brother and at-tacked him, Allaman said.

Wilson pulled out a knife and chased York, the detective said, causing Tharpe to intervene.

Wilson told the detective he saw Tharpe go after his brother and knock him down, Allaman said, so he tried to pull Tharpe off his sibling.

According to Allaman, Wilson told police during his interview that Tharpe “got me on the back of the head” and shoved him, after which Wilson “plugged” Tharpe.

In his opening statement, defense attorney David Stewart told jurors Wilson reacted to an unprovoked attack.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Teresa Logsdon in her opening statement said the stabbing nearly was fatal to Tharpe, who sustained a liver laceration.

Sheriff’s officials who spoke to Wilson following his arrest four days after the incident said the defendant said he appeared to regret the stabbing and referred to it as a “terrible” and a “freaky accident.”

Wilson described Tharpe as his “brother” whom he had known most of his life, Allaman said.

The jury also heard testimony from Elizabethtown resident Raymond Humes with whom Wilson briefly stayed last April.

The day of the stabbing, Humes found a knife on the floor of his Crutcher Street residence and offered it to Wilson, whom he knew collected knives, Humes told the court.

“I offered it to Raymond because I wanted it out of my house,” Humes said.

Prior to leaving Humes’ house that day, Wilson and his brother were drinking, the witness said. Humes said he never heard the brothers discuss attending a party.

When they returned that night, Humes said Wilson told him he stabbed a man and lost the knife.

According to sheriff’s officials, the knife has not been recovered and Wilson admitted to tossing it from his brother’s truck after fleeing the party.

Testimony resumes at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.