Wednesday, September 16
WARNING: Some of you might find parts of this report disturbing.
The first person to take the stand today was Rebecca Mitchell, who was best friends with Jade, Levi's younger sister. She later became friends with Levi as well. She said she would stay over at the King house quite often, and loved the lack of rules and complete freedom, something she could never have at her own house where her mother was very strict. She said there were absolutely no boundaries there - they would go wherever they pleased, whenever they pleased, and had complete open access to both drugs and alcohol. At the time, she thought it was wonderful, but now as a parent herself she calls the situation horrific. She remembers Scott King (Levi's dad) lying to the police for them on more than one occasion. She said Scott treated her nicer than he treated Levi.
She describes Levi as a great friend, a good listener and compassionate. He helped her get through some hard emotional times in her life and he was the only one, she says, to help her clean her new apartment and get it ready for her new baby. She calls him a caring, special person. She then went on to say "when someone is a good friend, you stay behind them even when they make bad decisions." She says she never saw anything in Levi that would make her think he was in any way violent or capable of murder.
She remembers seeing wild animals running free inside the King home, and that they were allowed to write on the walls with marker. She says Scott's room was filled with guns, knives, hatchets, swords and even a ball with spikes sticking out of it. The jury was shown photos of his room as Rebecca was describing it. She saw Scott smoke marijuana with his six year old son. She says that she didn't think Levi's parents thought he was worth the effort and that if Levi knew people cared about him, he wouldn't be where he is today.
Several of King's fellow LDS church members took the stand next. One of them taught Levi in Sunday school and said he was a pleasant child. She called Scott "worthless and worse," someone who treated his children "pretty bad", and someone who should be in jail himself. She then went on to say his actions "same as killed Levi." At one point during her testimony, she looked over at Levi and said "there's a lot of people that still love you Levi." She said Levi always did well in Sunday school, but she only had him for 40 minutes once a week and clearly that was not enough to instill in him the values of God.
The afternoon was extremely emotional in the courtroom today. Levi's older sister Prairie took the stand. She is 29 years old and currently lives near Dallas and manages an auto parts store. She said the last time she saw Levi was back in 2001 or 2002. She read aloud a letter he wrote her from prison, right after she found out about the murders. He said "I'm sorry there was such news to be told. I'm constantly tormented by how much pain I caused. Please forgive me for any way this horrendous act has become a part of your life." She said when she first heard about what her brother had done she couldn't believe it, shaking her said saying it's still so surreal and extremely sad.
Prairie says he parents never supported any of them or cared what they did. She said she was a member of the National Honor Society, but dropped out of high school during her Junior year because no one made her go to school. She eventually completed her GED. She said her parents were too wrapped up in doing drugs to care about her and her siblings. She says her father is just as responsible for Levi's actions as Levi is and why he is not on trial too for the way he treated his children. She says she calls him Scott, and refuses to call him Dad because he in no way was a father figure. She says she is not making excuses for anything her brother has done, but wanted the jury to know what kind of environment Scott provided for all of them. She cried as she asked aloud, "what kind of father gives his children drugs?" She said she watched her father and his friend do needle drugs in front of her seven year old brother. She and her siblings were encouraged to do drugs, and all of them but the oldest child, Ben, took part in smoking marijuana with their parents. On occasion, Prairie said some of them even did meth.
She called her childhood home absolutely disgusting. She said there was open insulation, exposed wires and a refrigerator so gross she wouldn't even touch it. She said it was a place her father turned into a drug den. She remembers smelling marijuana in her house since she was very little, but she didn't realize what that smell was until she was in her teens. She didn't realize her parents were doing drugs until she was in middle school and saw posters that said "Just Say No to Drugs" and realized her parents were doing what the bad people in the picture were doing.
She cried as she said she's never met Robin Doan (the 14 year old girl who was the sole survivor of the Pampa murders) but she can't stop thinking about her and what she now has to live with because of Levi's actions. She said she must have images in her head that no one should ever have to see.
She broke down crying once again as she spoke about the violent tendencies of her father. She says she remembers seeing him throw her mom up against the wall and hold a gun to her head. She remembers him beating her first with his hands, and then with a paddle over and over again until she could no longer physically stand up. She said he pulled her up by her arms and just kept beating her over and over until he was exhausted. She remembers him hitting her and Levi more than any of the other children. She remembers him shooting several of their family pets right in front of the children.
She spoke about her younger brother Spencer, who was accidentally shot to death in his own home by his friend when he was 13 years old. She said Scott King gave Spencer and his friend the gun. Toxicology reports show Spencer has traces of marijuana in his system. Prairie said after the funeral, Scott made the boys shoot guns in their yard, saying that he didn't want them to be afraid of guns just because their brother had died.
Prairie said when she was old enough, she left Scott's house and moved in with several relatives across the country until she got on her feet and started a new life of her own. She said she wishes she could have taken her two younger brothers with her, but she was too afraid of Scott and what he would do to her or the boys if she tried to take them away. She is now completely clean and tears up at the very thought of the years she spent in what she calls the "King House on the Hill."