Myles Stout friend says victim, defendant 'got along'

Myles Stout friend says victim, defendant 'got along'

September 8th, 2012 by Kate Harrison Belz in Local Regional News

Myles Stout, center, sits at the defense table with Mike Little, left, and an unidentified investigator.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

Seven months before Myles Compton was killed and Myles Stout was arrested in his shooting death, the two young men were taking turns swinging into a Soddy-Daisy swimming hole from a large rope swing.

A video of Compton and Stout the summer before Compton's death was shown Friday to the jury hearing testimony in murder trial of Stout, 21, who is accused in the shooting 18-year-old Compton at a friend's home.

During the fourth day of the trial, attorneys focused on the relationship between the two men, the gun used in the shooting, Compton's wounds and Stout's demeanor after the shooting.

The video at the Soddy-Daisy swimming hole was shot by Daniel Finley - who was also present at the March 9, 2011, gathering at their friend Kevin Driscoll's home in the Mountain Shadows subdivision where Compton was shot.

Finley said Stout and Compton knew each other through a mutual friend, and had gone swimming and off-roading together on multiple occasions.

"They always got along great," said Finley, who also described Compton and Stout's relationship as "excellent."

But prosecutor Lance Pope pointed out that the video was taken seven months before the shooting which killed Compton, and noted that Finley was better friends with Stout than with Compton.

Stout's attorneys, Hank Hill and Mike Little, have tried to show that the shooting was an accident and that Stout was deeply remorseful after the event.

They emphasized that by attempting to show another video of Stout several hours after the shooting, while he had been left alone in an interrogation room at the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

In the video, which was shown to Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman but not the jury, Stout sobs and apologizes to God and his mother, saying, "God, you know it was an accident."

Stout's attorneys had argued that the video should be admitted because it directly countered earlier testimony that Stout's demeanor was "joking" and "playful" while at the sheriff's office.

Steelman ultimately ruled not to admit the video, saying that it did not directly correlate with the witness's testimony.

Further, Steelman said there was danger in allowing the jury to see Stout utter that the shooting was an accident without giving prosecutors a chance to cross-examine the statements.

"There is the danger of unfair prejudice," Steelman said.

Steelman did acknowledge that the defense could call the detective who interviewed Stout to give an account of Stout's demeanor at the time.

As Hill questioned sheriff's office Detective Ric Whaley about Stout's behavior that night, Hill imitated Stout in the video, covering his face with his hands and heaving his shoulders.

"You couldn't say he was crying and sobbing and holding his hands against his face and leaning against the wall and falling to the ground?" Hill asked.

Whaley repeatedly responded that he "couldn't say" whether Stout was crying.

The prosecution later moved into a detailed analysis of the .40-caliber Sig Sauer the group of friends were handling at the March party, and which Stout is accused of pointing into Compton's chest before firing.

Both Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Kevin Warner and sheriff's office Detective Rodger Brown testified that the gun and its safety features were working properly.

Brown testified that because of the safety features on the gun, there is no way it could be accidentally fired. One by one, the jury passed both the loaded and unloaded gun, feeling the weight and learning how it fired.

But Hill said Stout could not be expected to have Brown's expert understanding of the gun's workings.

"You were taught that your whole life," he said. "That's not the same as being in a bedroom with a bunch of kids joking around."

The prosecution also called Hamilton County Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Metcalfe, who testified that burn marks on the skin showed that the gun's muzzle had been pressed against Stout's chest.

During cross-examination, Little grilled Matcalfe about why he had initially written on his report that the homicide was "accidental," and then crossed that word out after speaking with detectives.

"After that, I saw that word could no longer apply to the situation," Metcalfe explained.

The prosecution is set to rest its case on Monday.