During emotional testimony at the Jimmy Eacker murder trial Tuesday, a woman who was 8 years old at the time Toni Lister was reported missing recalled her memory of watching Eacker wash blood off himself on March 6, 1982.
"He was washing his hands and running his arms underneath the sink, and he was having a conversation with my mom," Merrilyn Talbot testified. "And my mom asked, 'Where have you been?' He said he was at the dump and he fell asleep in the truck."
Eacker allegedly borrowed the truck from Talbot's parents the night Lister was reported missing.
"He had to go there to calm down," Talbot said. "Mom asked him why he had blood all over his arm and his face. He said that he got into a fight."
Prosecuting attorney Pat Gullufsen asked Talbot if there was anything that stands out in her mind from the scene in 1982.
"The smell of blood and alcohol," Talbot said. "I can't take it. It makes me nauseous."
Talbot is an important witness for both sides because the defense has record of Talbot telling the Seward Police Department that she saw Lister walking down the street the morning after the state alleges Eacker killed her.
During the defense's cross-examination of Talbot, the witness denied any recollection of an interaction with a police officer on March 7, 1982.
"You have no memory of telling (police) that on March 7, 1982, you were on your way to Sunday school?" defense attorney David Weber asked. "You have no memory of telling (police) that on the morning of March 7, 1982 you had seen Toni Lister on your way to Sunday school? You have no memory of telling (police) that on the morning of March 7, 1982 on your way to Sunday school you had seen Toni Lister on the corner of Third and Jefferson?"
Talbot answered no to every question. She also said she has no memory of describing Lister wearing a white coat, missing her glasses or having messy hair.
Weber then asked Talbot if she described Eacker's clothing, during interviews with investigators, as being covered in blood.
"It was all over him pretty much?" Weber asked.
"That's what I said, sir," Talbot responded.
The jury has seen the clothes that Eacker wore the night Lister went missing are not drenched in blood.
During re-direct examination of Talbot, Gullufsen highlighted a clarifying statement Talbot made when interviewed by investigators.
"I said he had blood on his hands and face," Talbot said. "Somebody asked me if I saw blood on his clothes, and I said I don't remember."
Eacker is charged with murdering the 29-year-old Lister in the early morning hours of March 6, 1982. DNA evidence has brought the former cold case to life.
Andrew Waite can be reached at email@example.com.
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