Taunton returns to the courtroom as his murder trial could wrap up early

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FANNIN CO., TX - The trial for a Fannin county man accused of killing three of his family members has now entered it's second week, and Thomas Taunton says he might take the stand and testify.

Thomas Taunton returned to the courtroom briefly Monday afternoon--this was the first time we've seen him since Wednesday morning when he told the judge he didn't want to be present during his jury trial.

Monday, he told her again, he didn't want to be in court--and that he's been under 24-hour suicide watch. When asked if it has been his decision to be absent, he responded, "It's 50-50."

But we may see him in court Tuesday. He originally planned to testify, and he's the defense's last witness. But when asked if he would take the stand, he said again, "50-50."

First thing Monday morning one of the male jurors was disqualified and excused. Attorneys presented evidence showing he had a felony drug charge in Oklahoma. He was replaced with one of the alternate jurors.

The jury heard from the medical examiners who performed the three autopsies, and a forensic investigator who examined the bullets. That witness testified the recovered projectiles came from two separate guns.

The prosecution rested Monday afternoon, and the defense began to present their case.

They questioned Texas Ranger Brad Oliver on why two firearms at the Harpst residence were never collected as evidence. Ranger Oliver said one was a pellet gun, and the other wasn't on the DPS list of weapons that matched the recovered bullets.

Now we learned earlier in trial that Taunton claims he acted in self defense against Harold, and that Harold was the shooter who killed Sue Harpst and Regina Taunton. Monday, Taunton's attorney asked why Harold Harpst's autopsy report doesn't show his hands were tested for gun shot residue.

A forensic scientist testified there's a 4-hour cut off period to test for gun shot residue, and because the bodies were found days after the shooting, the results would not have been accurate.

News 12 will be back in the courtroom Tuesday morning, when we'll learn if Taunton will testify.


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