Originally created 02/16/99

Bloodstains ambiguous in Lumpkin trial



The last bits of scientific evidence proved hit-and-miss Monday in attorney William Lumpkin's capital murder trial.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation scientists could prove that a stain found on a rug and carpet padding in Mr. Lumpkin's law office was human blood, but they could not determine if it came from Martinez real estate agent Stan White.

Three pieces of duct tape found on the edge of the Savannah River, where Richmond County sheriff's investigators say they believe Mr. White's body was put in the water, were the same kind of tape as a roll found in the office building where Mr. Lumpkin worked, according to testimony Monday.

Mr. Lumpkin, 52, has pleaded not guilty to murder and theft in connection with the Sept. 2, 1996, death of Mr. White, 64. The seventh day of testimony in Richmond County Superior Court begins at 9:30 a.m. today. Prosecutors expect to conclude their case tonight.

On Monday, Georgia Bureau of Investigation laboratory experts testified about evidence sheriff's investigators gathered in the days after Mr. White's disappearance on Labor Day in 1996, to corroborate what prosecution witness Augustus Williams said happened that day.

Mr. Williams told detectives, and the jury last week, that Mr. Lumpkin plotted to kill Mr. White and did so at his law office.

Mr. Williams said Mr. Lumpkin wrapped Mr. White's body in a camouflage tarp secured with duct tape, and then disposed of sand from a sandbag he had used to beat Mr. White.

Mr. Williams also said Mr. Lumpkin disposed of Mr. White's socks and clothing along Washington and Columbia roads.

Defense attorney Michael Garrett told the jury last week that Mr. Lumpkin and Mr. White got into a physical fight at the law office that Labor Day, but it was Mr. Williams who killed Mr. White.

Mr. Lumpkin and Mr. White were linked through Mr. Lumpkin's Evans home, which he had lost to an Internal Revenue Service foreclosure.

Mr. White bought the house at an IRS auction Sept. 5, 1995, and agreed to sell it back to Mr. Lumpkin through an option-to-purchase agreement both signed Sept. 14, 1995. The agreement was to expire on Sept. 14, 1998, according to the only copy of the document found.

Mr. White's family, however, contends the option expired on Sept. 14, 1996, less than two weeks before Mr. White was killed.

A GBI documents examiner, Betty Gayton, testified Monday that she believed the September 1998 date was not written on the document at the same time as the other date -- Sept. 14, 1995 -- although she could not offer an explanation for her conclusion. The two dates were written by two different pens, she testified.

On Monday, agent Gayton testified that she believed the date "9-4-98" wasn't written by Mr. White, although the date was initialed "SW," and all of the "SW" initials were consistent on the document, she testified.

Sandy Hodson covers courts for The Augusta Chronicle. She may be reached at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com