TAYLOR COUNTY, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Prosecutors began Day two of the trial in the murder of Abilene realtor Tom Niblo by playing the call his wife made to 9-1-1 after fleeing their home the morning he was shot and killed.
Niblo’s brother-in-law Luke Sweetser, is on trial for Murder and Tampering with Evidence.
Latest out of trial:
This phone call was the third attempt Cheryl Niblo had made around 6:16 a.m. the morning of December 12, 2016. She was calling from the cellphone of a family friend she found walking along her path of escape, and he says his Bluetooth headphones prevented the first couple of calls from functioning properly.
In the successful call, Cheryl is heard telling dispatchers her address on the 3700 block of Woodridge Drive and said, “I had to leave. An intruder came in and started shooting.” She also expressed concern for Tom, saying he was shot in bed.
Much of what Cheryl was telling dispatchers was difficult to understand due to her distress and sobbing.
Cheryl said she was only in pajamas and was barefoot because she ran out of her bathroom.
“I just heard so many shots,” Cheryl told dispatchers. “Please help.”
The call to dispatch revealed that she ran up to someone walking on River Oaks Boulevard to use his phone and learned it was Niblo family friend Kelly Kinard.
Cheryl and Kinard were walking together toward another friend’s house on River Oaks when the call was made.
During the call, Cheryl seemed to have lost her composure more than once, repeating phrases like “who would do that” and “I don’t know what to do” over and over again while sobbing.
Eventually, Cheryl and Kinard made it to their destination – the house of the Hamptons. Cheryl was then recorded instructing Kinard to tell them what’s going on when they came to the door.
Cheryl then recapped her story of escape again, saying she was in the bathroom when she first heard the intruder following by the shots, and fled when she heard what she thought was a shot through the bathroom door.
Once outside, Cheryl said she scaled a fence to get into a neighbor’s backyard, but they were gone so she ran until she found Kinard.
Walker describes Cheryl Niblo running up, screaming for phone
Kelly Kinard took the stand next, saying he was bundled up from head to toe while walking due to the cold weather, rendering him unrecognizable.
He told the jury he had just turned onto River Oaks Boulevard from a bridge that crosses over South 14th Street when Cheryl ran up behind him, shouting “do you have a cell phone?”
Kinard described Cheryl as “frightened” but “determined” to get a phone and call 9-1-1. He said she briefly explained why she needed a phone, mentioning an intruder, shots, and her concern for Tom before calling.
When the call finally connected, Kindard said he was not paying close attention because he was watching the street, afraid the intruder might come after them.
He also kept watch over the street when they finally made it to the Hamptons’ residence and were standing on the porch.
Kinard added that Cheryl later told him that because she didn’t immediately recognize him due to all of his layers, she thought he may be the intruder but was so worried about calling police, she felt she had to contact him.
How close was the shooter to Tom Niblo? Medical examiner gives insight into fatal gunshot wounds
Dr. Richard Fries with the Tarrant County Medical Exaimner’s Office took the stand next. He was the professional who performed an autopsy on Niblo’s body the day after the shooting.
In his testimony, Dr. Fries revealed that Niblo sustained eight gunshot wounds: Two to the face/head, two to the abdomen, two to the arms and two to the legs. Overall, five bullets were recovered from his body.
The two gunshot wounds to Niblo’s head allowed Dr. Fries to determine those shots were fired from a range of around three to four feet away, though that could vary slightly depending on the exact firearm used. He was unable to determine the range of the other six shots fired.
Dr. Fries also said the shots were fired from a firearm to the right of Niblo, and at a position behind his feet, due to the wound pattern.
During testimony, Dr. Fries used two of the attorneys to demonstrate the path of the wounds to jurors.
Toxicology results only revealed one prescribed medication was in Niblo’s system at the time of death. No alcohol or illicit subtances were detected.
Before breaking for lunch, Tom Niblo’s wife, Cheryl also took the stand. BigCountryHomepage.com will recap her testimony Wednesday afternoon, after she is cross-examined by the defense.
Check back for the latest updates from court.