Terrance Black guilty in murder of Frisco fitness instructor
Original Article Posted Aug 08, 2012 by
A Collin County jury found Terrance Black guilty of capital murder Thursday in the beating death of his former girlfriend Susan Loper, a fitness instructor.
“You, sir, are pure evil,” District Judge John Roach Jr. said as he imposed an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Loper’s friends and relatives sobbed after the verdict was announced, but Black had no visible reaction.
Loper’s close friend Marla Malone later delivered a victim impact statement with Loper’s mother, Catherine Miller, by her side.
“Your selfishness put a permanent scar on the lives of so many,” Malone said. “You, Terrance Deering Black, will be forgotten and left to rot away in a cell in a Texas state prison for the rest of your pitiful life.”
Prosecutors said the 50-year-old Frisco man attacked Loper on April 19, 2011, in her Pilates studio at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano. Her bloodstained car was found late that night, and her body was found the next day near a field along the Dallas North Tollway.
Black was arrested after he jumped into the Grand Canyon in Arizona while fleeing park rangers.
“It was a terrible, terrible murder,” prosecutor John Schomburger said. “The evidence was strong, and we were pleased with the verdict.”
The jury of nine men and three women deliberated about 41/2 hours after eight days of testimony from dozens of witnesses.
During closing arguments Thursday morning, prosecutor Justin Johnson told jurors: “Only this defendant had the knowledge, the means, the opportunity and the obsession to commit capital murder.”
And Johnson said Black lied multiple times, including giving a false name to park rangers.
“It tells you he had something to hide,” he said.
But defense attorney Toby Shook urged jurors during closing arguments not to speculate and try to fill in gaps with guesswork.
Shook said police had tunnel vision when they targeted Black as a suspect early in the investigation and didn’t look at anyone else, including Loper’s boyfriend at the time of her death. Repeatedly during the trial, the defense pointed at that boyfriend, Jayson Hayes, as the possible killer.
“If something doesn’t fit on Terrance Black, they don’t pursue it,” Shook said. “It’s not an objective investigation.”
The prosecutor, Schomburger, said after the verdict that the suggestion that Hayes was involved in the death of the 40-year-old Frisco single mother was simply a smokescreen.
“We knew Jayson Hayes had nothing to do with this case,” he said.
Johnson told jurors that Black had hacked into Loper’s email the night before her death and knew she was working her last day at the club and what time she would be there.
But Shook denied Black had been stalking Loper.
“Does he look at her email and Facebook? Yeah, sure, he reminisces. But that’s not admission of guilt,” he said.
Shook told jurors that DNA evidence found on Loper’s shirt did not match Black or Hayes and that a forensic analyst said it belonged to an unknown male.
Loper didn’t come in contact with anyone that day other than her killer, Shook said. “That’s reasonable doubt,” he told jurors.
Schomburger said that assumes the shirt was clean when Loper put it on and that it didn’t pick up DNA from any number of places.
“It’s a red herring,” he told jurors.
What was significant, the prosecutor said, was Black’s DNA found on the gearshift and headrest of Loper’s car.