Michael Russian took the stand in his own defense Tuesday afternoon, testifying more than 90 minutes about the events leading up to the 2012 death of Adam Bullock.
Russian testified on the second day of the trial, after the prosecution had rested mid day Tuesday. The defense painted a picture of a concerned father of three, trying to protect his girlfriend and his teenage daughter from a crazed intruder. Russian has maintained he killed Bullock, but motive was always the main contention point.
The prosecution rested its case after a lunch break. The defense rested just before 4:30 p.m. The jury was asked to return at 9 a.m. today for instructions and closing remarks before deliberations.
Russian told investigators that Bullock came to Russian's Anderson Court apartment to find Russian's ex-girlfriend April Darnell, and began to climb the stairs after arguing. Upstairs, Russian's teenage daughter and Darnell were sleeping. He said he remembers grabbing a dumbbell off a shelf and hitting Bullock in the head. Russian said he snapped, and blacked out, coming to on top of Bullock, and strangling him with a shoelace.
Darnell told the jury that Russian had taken her phone the night of June 28. Prosecutors introduced cell phone records that showed 60 messages sent and received from Bullock to Darnell's phone, while it was lost. Darnell said she believed Russian had the phone during that time.
Through the testimony of Darnell and her friends, Kenny Williams and former boyfriend David Hannah, the prosecution showed jurors a different version of Russian, primarily obsessive and threatening. The three described threats of violence, intense text messaging and unannounced visits.
While the defense primarily tried to claim self defense, the prosecution says the murder included a calculated move to lure Bullock to the apartment for a confrontation.
The courtroom was silent as Russian explained his version of events. While Darnell said she never saw a body, Russian told the jury she had helped him clean up the blood. The body was stored in the apartment's storage shed, before Russian says he got a shopping cart from a nearby store and took the body down toward the riverfront.
"It was like a bad dream," Russian said, describing the two days between Bullock's death and when he was arrested. "It was like nothing was really real. It was like I was looking through someone else's eyes."
Every time attorney Jamey Mills asked Russian if he killed Adam Bullock, he said the same two words: unfortunately, yes.
Russian's testimony followed a morning of prosecution witnesses, namely Darnell, Williams and Hannah. Hannah and Darnell both testified about an incident on Jan. 1, 2012, when Darnell had stayed the night at Hannah's house. Both said Russian showed up at Hannah's home, kicked in the door and beat Hannah over the head with a wrench. No police report or charges were filed.
The prosecution, led by attorney Guthrie Allen, harped on the similarities between the two outbursts, mainly that Hannah was hit over the back of the head when he turned away, and that Russian also allegedly attacked Bullock from behind.
Russian said he went to pick Darnell up, after she had text messaged him repeatedly to pick her up. He said Hannah threatened him with a gun, then Darnell ran out of the house and went home with Russian.
Detective Justin Crowell also testified for the prosecution before it rested its case. Crowell, who mainly stuck to information pertaining to a transcript of Russian's interview with police. Russian said he blacked out after hitting Bullock with the dumbbell. He said he has blacked out several times before in his life, mainly because of rage or anger.
The defense also called up neuropharmacologist Dr. Jonathan Lipman, a consultant who specializes in forensics and drug addiction. He described the ins-and-outs of methamphetamine addiction, in relation to Monday's testimony that revealed Bullock had methamphetamine and alcohol in his system when he died.
The levels were not blood levels, and the body was decomposed, Lipman said, which allows for some error in the numbers.
The levels, however, showed that the amount of meth in the body at the time of death could be characterized as significant. Lipman said it was most likely that Bullock was legally intoxicated on meth and alcohol at the time of his death.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.
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