ALBIA, Iowa -- The First Degree Murder trial of Patrick Thompson again focused on fire investigation on Thursday.
Thompson is accused of setting a house fire in Guthrie County in May 2017 that killed Paige Exline and her cousin, Shakiah Cockerham. Paige is Thompson's stepsister. Both her father and brother were facing charges for allegedly sexually abusing her at the time of the fire. Prosecutors say Thompson started the fire to silence Paige from testifying.
On Thursday DCI Special Agent Elizabeth Miller testified about what she smelled when she came across a motorcycle suit, helmet and gloves belonging to Thompson that the Greene County Sheriff's Office had discovered in a freezer. "When I walked in I did not smell anything. I eventually smelled the suit, and a very strong smell of gas at that point," Miller testified on Wednesday.
The motorcycle gear was discovered the same day as the fire that killed Paige Exline and Shakiah Cockerham. Thompson's stepbrother Noah Exline, who is still awaiting trial for allegedly sexually abusing Paige, says Thompson told him to take the item's to a neighbor's apartment that day.
Agent Thompson was questioned about how the evidence was collected. The items were bagged in paper bags, not vapor sealed bags. Thompson says she didn't have any vapor sealed bags at the scene and did the best she could. Thompson's defense is trying to disprove that the fire that killed Paige and Shakiah was intentionally set, thereby also disproving the murder charges.
Testimony continues on Thursday at the Monroe County Courthouse.