Several Birmingham police officers testify in Curtis Thornton's arson trial Wednesday
Former Birmingham Police Department officer Curtis Thornton saw several of his former colleagues take the witness stand Wednesday as his arson trial entered day three.The state called several Birmingham police officers to the stand, all of whom testified they saw Thornton at 1708 29th Street in Ensley May 21, 2012 when the arrived at the location on a report of a burglary call. Former officer Sharon Manaci said she asked Thornton if the basement was "clear" and he said yes.Approximately 10 minutes later, police were called back to that house, this time on a report of a fire, which investigators say originated in the basement.One former Birmingham Fire Department employee, Mike Pate, says no utilities were hooked up to the house and that the fire was because of "human involvement."While Manaci and Thornton stood outside the house fire, she testified that he was talking about things like "candles," "clothes" and how he gave her "enough time" to get out.
The state also called to the stand Sye Muanwar, a former Marathon gas station employee in the area of the fires, and he gave testimony regarding an encounter with Thornton in December 2011. Muanwar said Thornton, wearing his police uniform, entered his store, poured alcohol on the counter then set it on fire. The witness went on to say that he told Thornton to quit, warning him that he could lose his job if he didn't. He testified that Thornton replied, "I don't care."
Prosecutors produced photographic evidence of a singed cash register following the testimony.
Gina Scaldeferri, a member of Hoover Police Department's Crimes Against Children and Internet Forensics team, testified that she searched two laptops and a hard drive obtained from Thornton's home for keywords like "arson" and "fire" and said she found a couple news clips about arson in Ensley, as well as a couple of pictures and a video clip about fire from ABC 33/40.Testimony is schedule to resume Wednesday afternoon after a lunch break.
Reporter Bryant Somerville will provide the latest updates on Thornton's arson trial on the news at 5 and 6 p.m. You can watch the newscasts live online here.