A man accused of cutting a 19-year-old woman’s throat at a Great Bend residence in January is on trial this week for attempted second-degree murder. The three-day jury trial for Timothy Charles Chism will resume at 8:15 a.m. Friday in Barton County District Court and is expected to conclude by the end of the day.
District Judge Carey Hipp is presiding over the case.
The case stems from the night of Thursday, Jan. 10. Just after 10 p.m., Randy Baker called 911 and said, “I’m at 12th and Morton. Somebody just got her neck cut or something. She’s bleeding real bad. ... Please hurry.”
The occupant of the house, Brandon Witthuhn, knew his address was 1120 Morton St. He also called 911 and requested an ambulance. He said a woman had a gash on her neck.
Great Bend Police were dispatched for a reported stabbing. According to police reports at the time, the victim and other witnesses stated Chism, then 34 years old, cut her throat and then fled from the residence on foot. The victim, (identified in court as Kimberly Trimmer), was transported to the University of Kansas Health System - Great Bend Campus and later recovered from her wound.
Most of Wednesday was spent in selecting a jury. Barton County Attorney Levi Morris has called several witnesses, including people who were at the residence that night. The jury heard from GBPD Detective John Reynolds and they listened to the 911 calls.
Witnesses' details varied but their stories were similar. Baker showed up at Witthuhn’s residence that night with Trimmer. Cassandra Thorne was also there. Baker told Reynolds everyone was “just chilling” but some or all of them did marijuana dabs — which are concentrated marijuana in an oil or wax form — and/or meth.
Witthuhn testified that all of the people in his house that night did both dabs and meth. When asked if he too had used any illegal drugs that night he invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
Everyone had been together about 30 minutes, with Chism and the two women seated on a couch and Whitthuhn and Baker in chairs.
Reynolds testified about his first interview with Trimmer and what she’d told him. “Mr. Chism had a strange look on his face. He grabbed her hair and made a motion across her throat — it kind of tickled.” Then Chism made a second motion where he cut her throat. Witthuhn jumped up and pinned Chism to the floor.
By Feb. 4 Trimmer was less sure of what happened, Reynolds testified. “She said her dreams and flashbacks were different from what she thought she had seen.” People were saying Whitthuhn had attacked her, not Chism. Reynolds said he told her “she needed to tell me the facts she remembered,” and not what someone had told her.
Trimmer then told him she was on the couch with Thorne and Chism and they were taking hits off a meth pipe. “Chism said he loved her. The next thing she remembers, Chism was on the ground.” He’d been taken to the floor by Witthuhn.
Neither Baker nor Whitthuhn actually saw the weapon, according to their testimonies Thursday.
Trimmer amended her story later, Reynolds said. The first time she said Chism had grabbed her by the hair from behind with one hand while he made the “tickling motion across her throat” with his other hand. In other versions of the story, Chism stood up or leaned over Thorne’s lap to reach Trimmer.
Trimmer was bleeding and Whitthuhn was holding Chism down on the floor. Baker went out the front door and called 911. Witthuhn also called 911 but put his phone aside to apply pressure to the wound on Trimmer’s neck. Thorne grabbed a scarf and attempted to stop the bleeding. Witthuhn said he couldn’t hold Chism so he escorted him out the door and tended to Trimmer. When police arrived and an ambulance took Trimmer to the hospital, the others went into the living room and gave police their statements.
When Baker testified, he said the attack was unexpected and apparently unprovoked. “It just happened. People were sitting there.” He testified that “Tim stood up — walked around (Thorne) and slit her (Trimmer’s) throat.”
“Did you observe the weapon?” Morris asked.
“I did not,” Baker said. “Brandon put (Chism) on the floor, I went out the front door and called 911.”
When Morris asked, “Was anybody using drugs?” Baker paused and answered, “I don’t remember. A lot of things happened that night.”
“Were you high on meth that night?”
“It’s possible,” Baker said. He also testified that he was not under the influence of drugs Thursday and had been clean and sober “since before I was arrested.” (The Great Bend Tribune’s record of jail logs shows he was arrested the same night as Chism for “failure to adhere” and he was released to treatment on May 28.)
Witthuhn also told what he recalled. At first he said, “Tim, Cassie and Randy were in the house just hanging out,” and “Kim had gotten a ride. She showed up — I think she was with Randy.”
He also described the attack as coming from out of the blue. “We were just sitting there in the living room. We were just sitting there chilling, talking. ... We were all sitting down; there wasn’t anything wrong.”
Witthuhn said “it looked like he was tickling Kim on her neck — then I saw blood, grabbed Tim and was calling 911.”
During cross examination defense attorney Donald E. Anderson II pointed out that Whitthuhn’s testimony was somewhat different at the preliminary hearing on March 7. He’d been asked if Chism was under the influence of meth and had answered, “not that I recall.”
Asked if Whitthuhn thought his memory would have been better back in March than it is now, Whitthuhn said he’d had more time to think it over. Anderson pointed out that Whitthuhn had just testified that Trimmer was at the house before Baker showed up and then realized they’d come together. “Your memory was wrong,” he said.
Anderson has filed a notice in district court that part of Chism’s defense will be that he could not commit the crime of attempted second-degree murder because of “involuntary intoxication” that made him “incapable of understanding the wrongfulness of his alleged conduct.”
This story first posted on Aug. 15 and was modified on Aug. 16 to correct the spelling of "Witthuhn."