Jury deliberates in retrial of Knoxville man accused of killing pregnant girlfriend

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Closings arguments concluded Tuesday afternoon for the retrial of Norman Clark and the jury began deliberating.

Clark is accused of killing Brittany Eldridge and his unborn child.  He was put on trial for the crime in 2011, but it ended in a mistrial.

Court proceedings got off to a late start on Tuesday after Norman Clark, a man accused of killing Brittany Eldridge and his unborn child, was late to his own retrial.

Clark arrived about 15 minutes late. After he arrived, Judge Steve Sword sarcastically said, “thank you for finally showing up. It’s not like you’re on trial for murder or anything.”

THE STATE

Assistant District District Attorney Leslie Nassios told the jury that Eldridge was killed because she was a threat to Clark’s lifestyle. She said Clark had serious financial issues and was in no position to have another child.

“Norman was an emotional vampire. He led a parasitic lifestyle. He lived at home with his Mommy and Pops. They took care of him,” said Nassios.

Nassios said Clark controlled everyone in his life and when Eldridge got pregnant, he lost control.

“The crime scene was controlled. Clark staged the scene to look like a burglary occurred,” said Nassios. “There wasn’t an intruder because burglars steal. He staged it as a burglary to deflect the crime from the true killer.”

Additionally, she said text messages from Eldridge’s phone to Clark’s phone after she died make it look like she was alive longer than she was. She also said Clark’s fingerprints were found on Eldridge’s TV screen in a key spot where he would have held it to place it on the floor.

“His entire life is a pattern of deception,” said Nassios. “Clark lied to police, saying he called Eldridge the night she died to tell her he couldn’t come over. Phone records show that never happened.”

She says to believe Clark’s story, the jury would have to believe in a series of coincidences.

THE DEFENSE

Norman Clark’s defense attorney,  Kit Rodgers, says from day one Clark has cooperated with police.

“You can dislike his lifestyle. He is a player, but that doesn’t mean he’s a killer,” said Rogers. “This is a first-degree murder trial and the state wants you to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt because he’s a player.”

Rogers said all the women Clark was seeing say he misled them about dating other women, but was upfront about his player ways.

The attorney said prosecutors took extreme measures to link Clark to the crime scene because they couldn’t do it with evidence. He argues it is more likely Eldridge was killed by a burglar.

In opening statements, Nassios questioned why nothing was taken from Eldridge’s apartment if she was killed by a burglar. Rogers says the burglar most likely didn’t take anything because he had just killed someone.

“The amount of planning someone would have to go through to pull this off as a motive-killing is extensive,” said Rogers. “We spent a whole week trying to make you hate Norman Clark. We never talked about what actually happened.”

“He’s just a guy. He’s a player. But you can’t convict someone based on that,” Rogers continued. “When you go into that room, you only have one choice. You have to mark not guilty because he’s not guilty.”

The jury began deliberating on Tuesday afternoon but decided to go home around 5:30 p.m. and resume deliberations on Wednesday morning.

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