Jermane Scott: Jumping The Gun—Part. 4

During the search of Scott’s residence on Dec. 9th, Springfield Police Department spoke with Reggie Gilbert and Anthony Eldrige. Both Gilbert and Eldrige lived at the same residence as Scott. Marla Gilbert, Reggie’s mother, and Scott’s—believed to be at the time—stepmother, had taken Eldrige in approximately 1-year-prior due to continuing issues, the then 14-year-old had been having with his family.

Det. Allen Icenhour of the Springfield Police Department wrote a report dated Dec. 9th. The report noted  Eldrige informing officers; while at the residence owned by Marla Gilbert, that Scott had, ‘[t]old him that he had killed a man, and to look on the front page of the paper.’ Eldrige also informed officers that he had seen Scott, ‘[p]ut a gold card and keys in the closet.’ (Note: officers found Thomas’ Gold Card & keys on a ledge in the attic.)

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Section taken from Allen Icenhour report, dated, Dec. 9th, 1996.

 

Both Eldrige and Gilbert were then escorted to the SPD, where taped recordings were taken of interviews conducted by Det. Jacobs, and Graeber. During these taped interviews, Gilbert informed the officers that Scott had given him 2 checks; one of which was filled out by Keith Donahue, and cashed at Check Exchange on Dec. 4th. The second check; which Scott filled out, and Donahue signed, was not accepted by Key Bank, due to tellers becoming suspicious.

Of far greater significance—owing to the fact that Scott never denied his involvement in both attempting to cash 2 of Bertram Thomas’ checks, and the fraudulent use of his credit card—was both Gilbert and Eldrige’s recollection of a sawed off .22 caliber gun owned by Scott that would be cited during the investigation, and subsequent trial as being the murder weapon in the Thomas homicide.

Only a matter of hours before Scott would be charged with the aggravated murder of Thomas, Gilbert and Eldrige would make the seemingly overlooked statement to SPD that Scott had given the murder weapon to a 16-year-old boy by the name of Terry Portman about one-week-prior.

Of particular note, one-week-prior, Thomas was still alive, yet imminently soon not to be.

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Section taken from Allen Icenhour report, dated, Dec. 9th, 2005. caption

Sgt. Al Graeber filed a subsequent summary report, also dated, Dec. 9th—enclosed in its entirety below—that covered much of Icenhour’s Dec. 9th, report, but with interesting inaccuracies and differences. Within, were statements that both Gilbert and Aldridge (sic) were brothers to Scott. While Marla Gilbert, who at the time of the report was believed to be Scott’s stepmother—during sentencing, it was revealed that this was not in fact the case as Scott’s father was not in fact so. Reggie Gilbert was therefore not even Scott’s stepbrother, while Eldrige was in no way shape or form related to Scott.

 

Graeber’s assertion that all 3 were related—while possibly excusable in the case of Gilbert—was likely an attempt to add weight to their revelations that Scott had admitted to the murder of Thomas, due to the nature of all being family.

Graeber’s report also failed to mention the seemingly vital information that the murder weapon had; according to Gilbert and Eldrige, been given to Portman just prior to the murder of Thomas. Of likely pertinence was that only a matter of hours before Graeber wrote this report, he, along with SPD had charged Scott with the aggravated murder of Thomas.

Graeber’s report detailed the arrest, and following interviews of both Mike Enis and Terry Portman. Both of whom claimed to have been at the Thomas residence when Scott allegedly shot Thomas.


Graeber makes mention of Thomas’ keys and the admittance by Scott as to being in possession of them. This is a ‘key’ element to Scott’s case, and has been discussed in Part. 3 of this series. I will further discuss this issue in further articles, when examining Scott’s recorded statement to police on Dec. 9th. 


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Summary Report by Sgt Al Graeber, dated, Dec. 9th, 1996.

 

 


Mike Enis and Terry Portman were the two key witnesses at Scott’s trial owing to the fact that they both claimed to be present at the time of Thomas’ murder. Documentation; requested by FOIA, is sparse to say the very least. Due to this fact, I will publish a separate sister article to this, that explores both Enis and Portmans testimony during trial. As of the Dec. 9th interviews, this is what was given to us via FOIA request.


Enis, interviewed by Graeber and Officer Jeffrey Flores at 6pm on the 9th, stated that he, Portman and Scott visited Thomas at 4pm on Wednesday Dec. 4th. Enis spoke of Thomas taking them to buy cigarettes and then getting dropped off at ‘Rose & Clay.’ According to Enis, Scott stayed with Thomas, and that he talked about, ‘[p]ulling a lick, and getting high.’ Enis further went onto state that he then, ‘[s]aw (Scott) later that night—acting different that night.’ Graeber/Flores’ notes went onto  briefly describe Enis’ movements over the subsequent days regarding visiting the mall to purchase items on Thomas’ credit card; going to work, and not going to school.

Of interest was Enis’ claim that the murder took place on Dec. 4th. Scott, along with Enis were known to have used Thomas’ credit card at a footlocker store that same day, yet that morning. If Enis was to be believed via his first statement, Thomas would have been murdered some hours after the robbery of his personal items.

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Notes taken relating to Mike Enis statement on Dec. 9th, 1996.

According to the notes taken, Enis’ interview was taped. During trial it was mentioned on more than 1 occasion that the transcripts of his interview detailed more than 30 pages—more on this in the forthcoming sister article.

 

Of relevance, within Graeber’s and Flores’ notes was their assertion that Enis saw Scott later that night, suggesting that there had been a specific break in their being together. Graeber’s subsequent report made no mention of this ‘break,’ rather alluding to the fact that Enis, Portman, and Scott were together throughout the occurrences that made up that fateful day/night. While this may appear menial at first, it is important to consider that over the coming days, weeks, and months leading up to, and during trial, Enis’ versions of events would change drastically. What is said and recorded within the first interviews is predominantly of vital significance. In Enis’ case, he would not only have difficulty in keeping his version of events consistent from day-to-day, but as will be shown in further articles, his version of events given during trial would lack cohesion literally from sentence to sentence.

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Mike Enis [left] and Terry Portman [right]
Portman, was interviewed by Det. Douglas Estep and Lieut. Nathaniel Smoot in a separate interview room to that of Enis at; according to trial testimony, the same time.

The notes taken relating to Portman’s interview; although equally brief, detailed the alleged crime that had taken place. According to Portman, he and Enis were in the pool room; located in the basement of Thomas’ residence, listening to music when they heard a bang, and they then saw Thomas on the floor, in the adjoining room. According to Portman, he and Enis then ran from the residence, only to be picked up shortly after by Scott—having firstly robbed Thomas of his credit card, checks, keys and rifle from upstairs, gone to the garage; which in turn needed a special tool to open the door, got in the car and found them in the pitch black, all within the space of approximately 1 minute. (Time frame taken from testimony given at trial, citation to be shown in sister article.)

Of further significance, were notes on Portman detailing what Scott was wearing—important to later testing of gunshot residue; which came back negative—and statement that he, Enis and Scott went back to Bridget Johnson’s—Portman’s Aunt—house following the murder.

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Notes taken relating to Terry Portman statement on Dec. 9th, 1996.

On both sets of notes—Portman’s more noticeably—there would appear to be a photocopy mark of a staple. While this may be seen as reaching by some/many, it’s worth considering that in the case of Enis, and likely Portman too—although definitive proof of the existence of a taped copy of Portman’s statement is hard to come by—transcripts from the recording came in at more than 30 pages. Due to this, It’s reasonable to suggest that notes taken during both interviews should be far greater in length. Owing to the aforementioned fact that Enis’—in particular—story changed so drastically over the subsequent months leading up to, and during trial, these notes are important due to their potential omission. Admittedly, the taped interview would seemingly offer as backup to any missing notes, but the lack of access to these—along with recordings often being stopped for certain periods throughout an interview—only lead to a seeming lack of transparency in Scott’s case. Details and statements following Scott’s charge of murder, only compounded the rush to judgement and jumping of the gun that took place in the initial stages of investigation.

Indeed, Patricia Shepherd’s—the woman who along with her son Michael, found Thomas dead in his basement—statement the following day of Scott being charged with Thomas’ murder, amplified SPD’s seeming rush to judgement. Her statement read as follows:

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Patricia Shepherd statement taken by Det. Doug Estep, Dec. 10th, 1996

“Mike & Terry were not allowed at Berts—Terry got violent with Bert a couple of times and Bert did not want them back—Mike & Terry had not been around for about 1 year.”


Shepherd’s statement raised obvious issues. Both her sons, Mike and Juan frequented Thomas’ residence on an almost daily basis. While Juan was wanted in connection with the Paris Harper homicide—detailed in Jumping The Gun—Part, 1, and to be further explored in forthcoming articles—Mike was present with Patricia, when Thomas was discovered dead. Although Juan’s involvement in gang related crime was evident, and indeed abundant and of potential significance in Patricia wanting to possibly highlight more obvious suspects than Juan, it nevertheless clearly pointed the finger of suspicion away from Jermane Scott.

Mike Shepherd, testifying at Scott’s trial spoke of one of the incidents his mother had alluded to in her Dec. 10th statement. While Mike Shepherd was not so assertive as his mother in terms of Enis and Portman not being allowed at Thomas’ residence whatsoever, the fact that Thomas did not want them there was clear.

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Section of Mike Shepherd’s testimony given at Scott’s trial, Sep. 10th, 1997

Perhaps of even greater significance was trial testimony given by 2 of Thomas’ daughters during trial. Elena Thomas in particular testified to the fact that both Enis and Portman had been giving her father trouble in the past, and like Mike Shepherd, who had testified to earlier during the same day at trial, neither her, or her sister had ever heard of Jermane Scott, let alone seen him at her father’s residence.

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Section of Elana Thomas’ testimony given at Scott’s trial, Sep. 10th, 1997

What was clear on both the day following Scott being charged with the murder of Bertram Thomas, and during the first day of witness testimony at his subsequent trial, Scott was unknown to most of the people with the greatest knowledge as to who frequented Thomas’ home. Of far greater significance was the knowledge of those same people as to both Enis and Portman not being welcome at that same residence; and for apparently very good reasons.

 

Next time, in Part 5, we will look into Jermane Scott’s interview with Springfield Police and his subsequent arrest. We will also look into greater detail at each individual that testified against Scott and the potential reasons for them doing so.


 

As mentioned previously, a ‘Sister Article’ will be published shortly, analyzing trial testimony given by both Michael Enis and Terry Portman. Not only will this give the reader a greater understanding of their version of events the day of Thomas’ murder, it will also highlight their changing, and highly implausible ‘storyline.’

 

For any questions or queries regarding this article, or any in the series so far, please do not hesitate to contact me here.

For any information pertaining to Jermane Scott’s case, the strictest confidentiality will be adhered to.

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