Terrance Black Trial: Day 6

Black's computer analyzed, friends testify

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    NEWSLETTERS

    During day six of Terrance Black's capital murder trial people who knew Black and Susan Loper let out secrets about their relationship that seemed to shock the Collin Couny jury.

    Testimony continued in the murder trial of a North Texas man accused of killing his former girlfriend in spring 2011.

    The following is a log of testimony from Day 5 of Terrance Black's murder trial.

    Black has been charged with killing fitness instructor Susan Loper on April 19, 2011. Her body was found April 20, 2011, near a treeline off John Hickman Parkway.

    Previous trial coverage: Day 5 | Day 4 | Day 3 | Day 2

    Monday Late Afternoon Testimony

    Friends of Black told the jury he was the type of person to "give the shirt off his back," characterizing the defendant as someone who would reach out to those in need.

    Pamela Williams said Black was going to school with the intent of becoming a representative for a medical device company.

    She told the jury she had been at a party with Black on the Saturday night before Loper was killed. Williams testified Black was "fine," showed pictures of his family and seemed to be happy. She agreed that she witnessed no sign that he was depressed.

    Another friend of Black told the jury that Black "thought he and Susan were going to get married," but that Black was not told until six months into a relationship with Loper that she was still married to Craig Loper.

    Friends of Susan Loper testified that Black was in the dark about the marriage for three months.

    The witness also said Black was helping Loper get her new Pilates studio and business started, specifically with computer work.

    The defense has alluded this may be the way Black had access to Loper's email and passwords.

    The testimony was also the defense's way of explaining the term "smoker," a word present in Black's iPhone calendar on more than on occasion. The witness said he and Black would use the word "smoker" to describe an attractive woman.

    The state has presented the theory that if, said aloud, "smoker" might sound like "smoke her," implying gunfire. Prosecutors have theorized that Black went to Loper's Pilates studio with the intention of shooting her.

    The defense attorneys also repeatedly asked witnesses, close friends of the victim, if Loper had ever sent away hair samples to be tested as part of her health and fitness routine or if she ever was seen brushing out her hair in Black's vehicle, perhaps after she got stuck in the rain at a Kenny Chesney concert.

    FBI investigators told the jury they found a clump of hair in Black's Escalade.

    The day of emotional testimony continued as Craig Loper, Susan Loper's ex-husband, was called to the witness stand.

    Loper was tearful as he discussed his wedding and honeymoon with his ex-wife. The couple's divorce was finalized in 2008, though Loper said they had drifted apart well before then.

    He testified that there was little "intimacy" left in the marriage and that while his ex-wife's relationship with Black was a "trigger," he could not name it as the only reason for their separation.

    The defense probed into personal details about the Lopers' sex life, with Loper admitting he and his former wife would occasionally have intimate encounters after their divorce was finalized.

    Others described the two's relationship as "amicable."

    Loper also testified about his former wife's email password, saying "it took about three minutes to guess it," and telling the jury she was not someone who was vigilant about her password.

    "I told her that she had to change her password," he said, noting it would be "easy" for another person to log in if they were to guess, using Loper's interests.

    Another witness, Mike Conklin, Craig Loper's roommate at the time of his former wife's death, testified that Craig Loper was in his bed at the time Susan Loper disappeared.

    Susan Loper's nephew, who lived with his aunt between August and November 2008, recalled an incident in the fall of that year when he was outside making a long phone call on her phone. Within a 30-minute period, he saw Black's vehicle drive by the home at least two or three times, he said. He testified that he recognized both the driver and the vehicle.

    At the end of the day, Leah Hall Price, a witness from earlier in the day was recalled. Hall Price, a former girlfriend of Black, dated him in the late 1990s.

    Hall Price testified that in her yearlong, on-off relationship with the defendant, she became pregnant by Black and chose to terminate the pregnancy. She told the jury Black did not attend the abortion procedure, nor did he pay for it. However, they remained friendly afterward, she said.

    "He was not mad -- not that I was aware," she said.

    Finally, Melissa Shields, the district sales manager for Inventive Health, took the stand.

    Shields testified that Jayson Hayes, Loper's boyfriend at the time of her death, was one of her employees and top pharmaceutical representatives.

    The state introduced call logs from April 19, 2011, the day Loper disappeared.

    Hayes' work logs, which the corporate system automatically time-stamps, show that Hayes logged in for the first time at 8:02 a.m. for his first physician appointment of the day.

    Shields said a representative is trained to open his or her tablet computer while waiting at a physician's office.

    The particular doctor he visited is located in Burleson, close to 60 miles from Gleneagles Country Club, where Loper was abducted.

    Shields' records show Hayes made calls until about 11 a.m.

    Police have testified that Loper was abducted at about 6 a.m. on April 19. Records show her car entered the Dallas North Tollway at 6:09 a.m. and headed north. After "going off the grid for 17 minutes," police testified earlier in the trial that Loper's car left the tollway system close to 6:40 a.m.

    The defense has argued that police should have looked further into Jayson Hayes as a suspect in Loper's death.

    Monday Afternoon Testimony

    The jury heard a bombshell revelation in the capital murder trial on Monday morning. Julie Mitchell Ayres, Loper's longtime friend, who testified she had introduced Black to Loper in 2006, told the jury that Loper had undergone an abortion during the time she and Black were together in early 2009.

    Ayres testified that Black was "upset" and "talked about [the abortion] openly," even with people who were not close friends. Ayres and another witness, also a friend of Loper's, testified that Black said he had asked Loper to "have another baby with him, when it was better timing."

    Both women said they were surprised Black would open up about the personal matter to casual acquaintances or friends of Loper's. Ayres said Loper was "very angry when she found out" Black was discussing the abortion. However, Ayres also testified that Black "never questioned that it was his baby" and when pressed by the defense, admitted it was Black who accompanied Loper to the procedure.

    Ayres also spoke about the beginning of Loper's relationship with Black, telling the jury Black and Loper met in 2006 while Loper was still legally married to Craig Loper.

    She testified the two were involved for about three months before Loper admitted to Black that she was married.

    "It wasn't my place to tell him," the witness said.

    During that time, Ayres said Loper would often not return Black's calls, saying "if she wasn't returning his calls, he would call me," and noting at least 10 occasions when Black would call her for advice about Loper.

    Ayres said Black would say, "How can I get her to talk to me?" adding that "he wasn't going to give up," despite Loper's marriage.

    According to Ayres' testimony, Black often became emotional during their phone calls, saying she personally heard him cry on more than one occasion when discussing his relationship with Loper.

    Ayres said Black would also frequently show up to girl's night out, "surprising" Loper when "he wasn't meant to be there."

    While Ayres said Loper was friendly to Black when he would arrive unannounced, she said "it had gotten old," noting that "we couldn't do anything out without him calling a million times or showing up."

    She told the jury "[Loper's phone] would ring a lot" while they were out together without Black, saying that Black would repeatedly call Loper when they were not together.

    However, she also told the jury Black was "very generous" to Loper, buying her computers, televisions and a projector for her business endeavors, as well as jewelry, clothing and gifts for Loper's son Jake.

    Ayres' testimony also chronicled the beginning of Loper's relationship with Jayson Hayes, her on-off boyfriend from February 2010 to the time of her death.

    She said the two had briefly broken up in March of 2011, about one month before Loper's death, calling it a "pretty serious breakup".

    While Ayres said she "didn't feel like [Hayes] was the one for [Loper]," she said the two were back together in April 2011, the month Loper went missing.

    Ayres said "no" when asked if there was any chance Loper would have gotten back together with Black romantically.

    She said when notified of Loper's disappearance, she said, "the first thing I said [to police] was you need to find Rance Black."

    On Monday, Judge John Roach refused to admit evidence into the trial involving a fight at Loper's home between Black and Loper's ex-husband Craig Loper.

    Loper's childhood friend Marla Malone is currently on the stand.

    Monday Morning Testimony

    During the sixth day of testimony in the capital murder trial of Terrance Black, a witness for the state said it is possible Black was "cyberstalking" ex-girlfriend Susan Loper before her abduction and murder.

    Detective Chris Pyryt testified about his forensic examination of Black's computers and thumb drives. He told the jury investigators found evidence of a word document on Black's computer titled "Whore Status." However, because the file was deleted, he cannot say what it contained.

    There was another .jpeg, or image file, found in the computer's recycling bin. That photo was titled "whore" and shows Loper with another man, with a modified date of 2/14/2011. That picture came from a sub-folder titled "SL – HO."

    The detective also testified Black's computer had been using a program called "InPrivate Browsing," a feature of Internet Explorer 9 that, according to the Microsoft website, "helps keep your private browsing activity private." Using this feature, Black's computer showed it had accessed Yahoo Mail and attempted to log into Facebook using Susan Loper's last known email address.

    In the first week of testimony, another state's witness testified an IP address belonging to Black had accessed Loper's email the evening before she was abducted and murdered. Pyryt said there was a cached email file on Black's computer, with the subject line "supplements in!" That email appeared to be an email from Loper's account – between Loper herself and a client.

    The email gave detailed information about what time Loper would be at her Pilates studio on the day she was abducted.

    Pyryt told the jury he also found a map of Gleneagles Country Club on a thumb drive belonging to Black. However, under defense questioning, Pyryt said that file showed it had not been access or altered since 2008, three years before Loper went missing.

    Pyryt also testified that browser history showed Black accessed a news story about a disappearance at Gleneagles Country Club dated 4/20/11. The specific story confirmed a body found in Frisco was that of Loper.

    Under defense questioning, the detective confirmed that was the only account of the investigation for which Black had searched.

    An ex-girlfriend of Black, who dated the defendant in 1998, also took the stand. Leah Price Hall of Macon, GA, told the jury she spoke to Black on April 18, 2011, the day before Loper went missing. Hall said she and Black discussed how he had been dating other women since ending the relationship with Loper, but told Hall it was hard to find someone else who could "measure up" to Loper, saying she was "the one." Hall testified, "She was the one he thought he could spend the rest of his life with."

    At this hour, the jury is hearing from a close friend of Loper, the woman who introduced her longtime friend to defendant Black.