Closing statements done in former Portsmouth officer’s murder trial, jury to deliberate Wednesday

Posted at 7:05 AM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-02 18:22:04-04

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Stephen Rankin took the stand in his own defense Tuesday morning.  He was on the stand for two and a half hours.  He spent 90 minutes answering questions from his lawyer and then spent 60 minutes being crossed examined by Commonwealth's Attorney Stephanie Morales.

At times, interactions between Rankin and Morales got heated and contentious.  Rankin repeatedly asking Morales to let him finish answering her questions.

The defense wanted to bring Rankin's ex-wife on the stand. They said they wanted her to testify about alleged killing fantasies he had six years ago.  The judge ruled no.

Rankin told the courtroom that he feared for his life and everything changed when the taser got knocked out of his hands.

Morales brought Rankin's police radio into the courtroom.  She asked him why he was unable to call for back up sooner and pointed out an emergency button on his radio.  Rankin said, at that point, he was not going to present the emergency button for an unruly  shoplifter.

He said everything happened too quickly. He said he arrived on the scene and spoke to the Walmart loss prevention officer.  Rankin said loss prevention officer pointed out Chapman as the person who stole from Walmart.

There was never evidence in court about anything stolen from Walmart.

Rankin said it was one minute from the time he got out of his car to approach Chapman and shots were reported to dispatch.

Morales questioned why Rankin didn't use pepper spray.   Rankin said he didn't consider using pepper spray but said he was too close to Chapman to use it anyway.  He said he would have gotten pepper spray on himself too and that would have been counter productive.

Rankin said he was following police procedures when he handled the call that involved Chapman.

During closing arguments Defense Attorney James Broccoletti said that if Chapman just walked away he would not been shot and killed and Rankin would have called for back up.

Morales told the jury again to not leave their common sense at the door.  She said the same statement during her opening statements.

Morales said not everyone agrees that the taser was knocked out of his hands.  She said we don't know why Chapman turned around like some witnesses testified.

Morales points to her star witness, the loss prevention officer at Walmart and wants the jury to remember his testimony.

Morales said the Portsmouth Police have the duty to investigate to determine whether or not someone is stealing.

Rankin is on trial for shooting and killing 18-year-old William Chapman in the parking lot of the Portsmouth Walmart in April of 2015. After an investigation, Rankin was indicted on first degree murder charges.

The trial began last Wednesday with the jury selection process and continued Thursday with opening statements from the prosecution and defense, as well as testimonies from police officers, firefighters, Virginia State Police investigators, and a person shopping at the Walmart that day.

On Friday, the judge, jurors and lawyers took a trip to Walmart to give the jury a better perspective of where the shooting took place. Later that day, the jury was shown the taser video taken the day Chapman was shot and killed. A Walmart security guard testified and described the shooting and verbal confrontation between Rankin and Chapman. He was cross-examined before the Commonwealth rested their case.

Four construction workers who saw the shooting took the stand on Monday and gave their recollections of what happened.

Rankin's testimony is expected on Tuesday.

News 3 will be live streaming parts of the trial on and on the WTKR News 3 Facebook page. Stay tuned for updates! 


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