Lubbock - The Levi King murder trial began this morning in the Lubbock County Courthouse at 8AM. When we walked into the courtroom, King seemed almost eerily calm. He was very relaxed, slouching down in his chair, sipping on a cup of coffee. Just a few minutes later, he shocked the courtroom when he pleaded guilty to all three counts of capital murder for the shooting deaths of Michell Conrad, Brian Conrad and Zack Doan in the early morning hours of September 30, 2005.
The Gray County District attorney says she fully intends to seek the death penalty. King said that he understands that, but still wants to plead guilty. King then admitted that he was once diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, as well as schitzophrenia. He then said, though, that he was sane and completely mentally competent when he committed the murders.
It was decided that the trial would continue as planned, except for now instead of deciding whether King is innocent or guilty, the jury will have to decide whether King should get the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Both sides gave opening statements. Prosecuting DA Lynn Switzer's opening statements appealed to the jury's emotions. She said things like 'Imagine you were at home with your family, sound asleep in the early morning. You think everything is fine and you feel safe... but then the unthinkable happens.' She then continued to recount minute by the minute the events of that September 30th morning, when King broke into the Conrad/Doan house and killed three people.
King's attorney gave a lengthy opening statement, painting a detailed picture of King's childhood. It was a childhood he said was filled with "anger, despair and destruction."
Several witnesses were called to the stand, including the 911 dispatcher who took the phone call as well as several of the Gray County deputies who responded to that phone call. Many of them gave emotional testimonies, with a few even crying on the stand. The most emotional part of the day though, came when the audio tape of the 911 phone call was played. The caller was the sole survivor of the attacks - Michell Conrad's ten year old daughter. She was crying for most of the phone call, even screaming at times. She said she thinks her family has just been shot and she said she played dead for hours until she was sure the attacker was gone. She repeatedly said she was scared and just wanted her mom. She then told the dispatcher she had a science fair at school that day and she was really nervous about it. She wanted to know if she should get on the school bus.
Throughout this audio recording, King sat up straight, stared straight ahead, his face totally void of any emotion. Not the case for many of the victim's family members who were also in the courtroom. Several of them started to cry and some even left the courtroom to calm down.
Things only got more dramatic when crime scene photos and crime scene videos were
shown. Many family members closed their eyes, obviously much to distraught to look at the images, especially the graphic, up close shot of the victims. When all was said and done, gray County DA Switzer presented more than 100 crime scene photos.
As the afternoon progressed, Kings demeanor changed greatly. He smirked a few times as he looked around the courtroom, even laughing and joking with his attorneys at some points.
The trial wrapped up for today around 5:15. It's set to start again at 8AM tomorrow at the Lubbock County Courthouse. We will be in the courtroom again all day tomorrow and will bring you updates at noon, 5 and 6, plus throughout the day you can follow us on Twitter @levikingtrial.