Man pleads not guilty to torturing, killing disabled uncle
BRIDGEPORT - A local computer programmer, accused with his wife of torturing her disabled uncle before beating him to death and then staging his body to fool police into believing the man had died from natural causes, pleaded not guilty to murder charges on Friday.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, Brent Whiteman stood before Superior Court Judge Robert Devlin and waived a hearing on probable cause. He then pleaded not guilty to murder, tampering with evidence, first-degree abuse and risk of injury to a child.
After a pause he told the judge he wants a trial by jury. Devlin continued the case to Nov. 9.
Whiteman’s wife, Tynisha Hall, was previously arrested on murder charges and is awaiting trial.
Police attributed the arrests to the couple’s 12-year-old daughter who they said became finally fed up with keeping the family’s dark secret and in May ran away from home. She later told a social worker she witnessed her mother and father abuse and torture the uncle before killing him, police said.
The uncle, 61-year-old Robert Jones, had been born with fetal alcohol syndrome, a rare condition caused by alcohol exposure while in the womb that she said caused him to fall a lot. Jones had been cared for by Hall, a certified nursing assistant and her husband in the couple’s home on Dover Street.
On Feb. 8, emergency medical technicians responding to a call of a man suffering a heart attack found Jones sitting in a chair on the front porch, a burning cigarette between his fingers, hot ashes spilling into his lap. A half cup of coffee was by his side.
Police said Hall appeared upset and claimed she had checked on her uncle and found him unresponsive, but medics found the man’s body locked in rigor mortis indicating he had actually been dead for hours.
An autopsy later showed that Jones had almost no blood in his body and he had a large wound in the back of his head that appeared to have been cleaned up, police said. No blood was found on his clothing.
Police went back to examine the Dover Street house. When Police Detective Kimberly Biehn sprayed the bathroom with BlueStar, a re-agent used to find blood stains, police said the walls lit up with a blue luminescence. Police said the spray revealed there was a blood splatter pattern that stretched from the ceiling to the floor - the dead man’s blood.
The daughter told detectives that she witnessed her parents torture Jones on many occasions. She said her father once struck done in the hand with a hammer and they forced Jones to sleep on the bare floor and would feed him old food from the garbage can.
Police said the daughter told them that on the morning Jones died she saw him crawling on the floor when her mother stepped hard on his head and then threw him into a tub of scalding water.
When she came home from school that day Jones was lying on the floor. Police said the girl told them her mother made her and her younger siblings help carry the man’s body to the front porch where her mother dressed Jones, sat him in the chair with a lit cigarette and placed a cup of coffee next to him to “fool the police.” Hall then sprayed perfume around to hide the smell of death.