and his co-defendant, Anthony Bond, were indicted for the felony murder
of the victim, James Day. The following evidence was presented at the
joint trial of Thomas and Bond.
Shortly after 12:30
p.m. on April 21, 1997, Thomas and his co-defendant, Bond, saw an
armored truck guard with a money deposit bag leaving a Walgreens drug
store on Summer Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thomas ran up, shot the
guard in the back of the head, grabbed the deposit bag which contained
$18,843.01 in cash, checks, and food stamps, and jumped into a white car
being driven by Bond.
Thomas and Bond
abandoned the white car on a street behind Walgreens, got into a red car
that Thomas had borrowed from his girlfriend, and drove away.
A Walgreens’ employee
heard the gunshot and then saw the armored truck guard, James Day, lying
in the parking lot. She saw a man running from the scene with a gun and
the deposit bag. The assistant manager of Walgreens ran outside and saw
Day lying face down in a pool of blood. Day, who was conscious, told the
man, “Call my wife.” Day remained conscious and continued to talk until
an ambulance arrived.
described the cars used by Thomas and Bond and gave descriptions of the
occupants to the police. One witness testified that he saw a white car
“speed” around the armored truck in the front of the store and that the
car was within four feet of him. Witnesses later identified Thomas as
the passenger in the white car.
Later on the afternoon
of April 21, Thomas and Bond arrived at the apartment of Thomas’s
girlfriend. According to her, the two men were “excited” and “out of
breath.” After telling Bond to get rid of the gun, Thomas began taking
money, checks, and food stamps from small white envelopes that had been
in Bond’s jacket. Thomas and Bond divided the money.
The woman testified
that later that same day, Thomas bought a customized car with gold
plates and spoke wheels for $3,975 in cash. The car was titled in the
woman’s name. Afterward, Thomas told her that they needed to get a hotel
While watching a news
report that evening at the hotel about the shooting, Thomas told her
that the victim “did not struggle for his life” and that he had “grabbed
the nigger by the throat and shot him.”
On the day after the
shooting, Thomas's girlfriend opened a bank account in her name and
deposited $2,401.48 in cash. Two days later, she bought a shotgun
because Thomas said they needed it “for protection.” According to the
woman, Thomas later bought a gold necklace for himself and wedding rings
for both of them. After getting married in May, the couple separated two
months later. Thomas told her not to tell police about the robbery.
The victim, James Day,
did not immediately die from the gunshot wound to the back of his head.
Instead, the gunshot damaged his spinal cord and resulted in paraparesis
(a profound weakness in one’s abdomen and legs) and neurogenic bladder
(a loss of bladder and bowel control due to nerve damage).
Faye Day Cain, the
victim’s widow, testified that her husband underwent numerous surgeries,
needed constant care and medical attention, and was unable to work. He
was confined to one room, was unable to use the bathroom, and became
In late September of
1999, Day was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery after his
bladder ruptured. The condition caused an infection; Day’s condition
continued to worsen, and he finally died on October 2, 1999.
The medical examiner
for Shelby County, Tennessee, Dr. O. C. Smith, testified that the cause
of Day’s death was sepsis, “secondary to the rupture of his bladder
resulting from spinal cord injury caused by the gunshot wound to his
Dr. Smith considered
Day’s death a homicide, and he stated that the “infection from the
ruptured bladder” could be “directly related back to [the] gunshot wound.”
Dr. Smith conceded that Day suffered from heart disease, high blood
pressure, diabetes, and obesity, but he stated that these conditions did
not cause the death.
Dr. Smith’s assistant,
Dr. Cynthia Gardner, likewise testified that Day’s death resulted from
the injuries caused by the gunshot wound. A videotape of the shooting
captured by Walgreens’ surveillance cameras was played for the jury.
A videotape made from
the original was also played for the jury at a slower speed. Thomas was
identified as the gunman who shot the guard in the back of the head from
a still photograph that had been made from the videotape. Thomas had an
extensive criminal record.
showed that once on January 4, 1993, twice on February 1, 1993, once on
March 8, 1993, once on March 12, 1993, twice on March 15, 1993 and once
on June 25, 1993, Thomas had committed armed robberies.
The prosecution also
introduced the testimony of Faye Day Cain, the widow of the victim,
James Day. She testified that her husband had worked two jobs to support
his family before he was shot and that she was unable to work due to a
medical condition known as thrombophlebitis.
She testified that
since her husband’s death, she and the couple’s minor son lived on
disability payments and social security benefits. Ms. Cain testified
that the victim had been her husband, confidant, lover, and best friend.
After the shooting, however, she and her husband could no longer have
physical contact or intimacy. The victim “couldn’t stand to be touched”
and “the least little noise would turn him into a frenzy.” She testified
that she had suffered great emotional pain, that she was no longer a
happy person, and that she cried often.
According to Ms. Cain,
the couple’s son, Cedric, was twelve when his father was shot. They had
enjoyed riding motorcycles, having breakfast, and doing “father and son”
things. After the shooting, however, Cedric became “hurt and angry.”
The jury imposed the
death penalty after finding that the evidence supporting the sole
aggravating circumstance outweighed the evidence of mitigating
circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. On appeal, the Court of
Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and the death sentence after
concluding that twenty-two issues raised by the defendant were without
Andrew Thomas: A case of flawed
June 01, 2009
Andrew Thomas was convicted and sentenced to
death in 2001 for the April 1997 robbery and shooting of an
armored truck guard, James Day, while Day was leaving a Memphis
Walgreens with a money deposit bag. However, new evidence calls
this conviction into question.
Following the shooting, Day was released from a
rehabilitation center in July 1997 with a neurogenic bladder as well as
a bowel condition. Nearly 2 and 1/2 years after the shooting, Day was
hospitalized with blood in his urine as well as heart disease and
diabetes. When he did not improve, surgery revealed a large tear in his
bladder with high levels of bacteria in his bloodstream. Day died on
October 2, 1999.
On April 21, 1997, Day was shot in the head and
robbed outside a Memphis Walgreens but was conscious and alert when he
arrived at the hospital. A woman saw the shooter grab Day's bag and get
into a white car. She said that the driver was a heavyset black man, age
30-35. Another eyewitness viewed a photographic spread on two occasions,
identifying the man in one photo as the driver of the getaway car--Bobby
On the afternoon of the robbery, Keith Echols went
shopping with his friend Anthony Bond. Bond bought a used car and other
items, refusing to say how he had obtained the money for his purchases.
Three weeks later, Bond told Echols that he was the one who shot the
armored truck guard at Walgreens. Three months after the Walgreens
robbery, Bobby Jackson was arrested and charged with a similar crime
against an armored truck guard. While in custody awaiting trial, Jackson
told an inmate that this was not his first time to commit such a robbery
but was his first time to get caught.
In October of 1997, Anthony Bond was arrested for a
different robbery. Memphis police compared his fingerprints with a print
lifted from a passenger-side door of the Walgreens getaway car. The
Anthony Bond became a suspect in the Walgreens
robbery nearly two years before Mr. Day's death. Bond admitted that he
had participated in the crime but told police that he drove the getaway
car. Bond alleged that the shooter was Andrew Thomas. In Bond's typed
confession, he claimed that he and Thomas planned the robbery, and that,
after the robbery, they went to the home of Angela Jackson, Thomas's
girlfriend at the time, and split the money in Angela Jackson's presence.
After James Day's death, Bond and Thomas were tried
together before a single jury.
Bond's trial strategy was to admit participation in
the crime but to deny that he shot Day instead claiming that Thomas was
the shooter. When Bond opted not to testify, the State presented to the
jury a redacted version of his typewritten confession which implicated
Thomas, whose trial attorneys did not object. The jurors did not hear
from eyewitnesses who remembered the driver of the getaway car as a
heavyset black male, a description that fit Bobby Jackson but not
Anthony Bond, who is six feet tall and quite thin. Nor did the jurors
hear from Keith Echols, the man to whom Bond had admitted that he shot
the armored car guard.
Regarding the death of James Day, the jurors heard
testimony from the State's two medical experts, Dr. O.C. Smith and Dr.
Cynthia Gardner. Smith testified that Day died as the result of an
unbroken series of events that began with the gunshot wound. Smith
concluded that Day's death was a homicide. When Gardner testified, she
repeated that Day's blood pressure had dropped, causing an injury to Mr.
Day's spinal chord. She explained that injuries in the lower thoracic
spinal region commonly give rise to neurogenic bladders. Andrew's
attorneys did not call any expert witnesses to challenge the testimony
of Smith and Gardner. The jury found Bond and Andrew Thomas guilty of
felony murder. On September 26, 2001, the jury returned a sentence of
death for Thomas and a sentence of life without parole for Bond.
After the trial, Thomas wrote letters to various
attorneys asking for help, consistently maintaining his innocence. He
attracted the attention of his current attorneys at the Winston & Strawn
law firm. Thomas had received a letter from Bond who admitted that he
and Angela Jackson lied about the Walgreens robbery. "Me and . . . Angie
played you playa," Bond wrote. "Its a cold game and a cold world and we
in both of them so its freezing." Investigators had wanted a shooter,
Bond said, "so I gave them you." Bond said he knew that Thomas had made
advances toward his girlfriend. "Since you tried to cross me I crossed
you," he wrote. Bond went even further in his letter. "Angie knew that
me and Bobby hit the Fargo truck," he wrote. In fact, Bond explained
that Angela Jackson had been fooling around with Bobby Jackson behind
Andrew's back. So, "Angie didn't snitch on Bobby even though she knew
the business." Bond's letter is now the centerpiece of Andrew's attempt
to get his conviction overturned. In the fall of 2007, Bond admitted
under oath that he was the writer of another handwritten letter that
Andrew's lawyers had obtained. Experts then compared the two letters and
concluded that the same person wrote both of them.
A second focus of Andrew's appeal is the trial
testimony of the State's medical experts. Serious flaws in their
testimony about the cause of James Day's death exist. In fact, Day's
medical records do not support the claim that his blood pressure dropped
as the medical examiners stated nor that his lower thoracic spine was
damaged. Instead, records show his blood pressure was briefly elevated,
and then returned to a normal range. The records also show that Day had
an injury to the central part of his thoracic spine, not the lower part.
The records do not establish any connection between this injury and the
gunshot wound, nor do they support Gardner's testimony that an injury to
the lower thoracic spine caused Mr. Day's neurogenic bladder.
Thomas's lawyers have also raised questions about the
quality of the medical care that Day received during the years leading
up to his death and during his final medical crisis. In the years before
Day's death, why weren't his diabetes and heart disease diagnosed and
treated? When Day had blood in his urine and was taking Coumadin, a
potent anti-coagulant, why did his urologist recommend that he drink
more fluids? Together with the flaws in the testimony of the State's
medical experts, these and other questions cast a clearly reasonable
doubt on the theory that Day's death was a homicide.