The trial of Aaron Tyler Crum commenced this week in the Eighth Judicial District Court. The 26-year-old Sulphur Springs man is accused of the shooting death of 38-year-old Joshua Paul Cowling of Sulphur Springs on Feb. 24, at Crum’s Pampa Street residence.
Crum has remained in Hopkins County jail since his arrest Feb. 24, for the murder of Cowling.
Jury selection in the case took most of the day Monday, with opening statements from District Attorney Will Ramsay Tuesday morning. Defense attorney Martin Braddy opted not to make an opening statement but reserved the right to address the jury at a later time.
Throughout the day Tuesday, Ramsay called multiple individuals who interacted with both Crum and Cowling in the hours prior to Cowling’s death. Sulphur Springs Police Lt. Eddie Moon and officer Derrick Williams also reportedly testified Tuesday.
Among those called to testify Tuesday afternoon were Roy Taylor of Quitman, Summer Sanders and Jessica Horton. All three were at Crum’s house the morning Cowling died. Each testified alcohol was consumed by those at Crum’s home. Drinking games were played.
Taylor testified Crum seemed a little cocky at the beginning of the social gathering, but got “more cocky” as time passed. He said Crum persistently approached Summer Sanders, the sister of the woman with whom he lived at the time. He considered Sanders family, so he told him to “back up,” that she had a small baby and a man already. He said Crum “just kept on aggravating her and me a little too.” Summer told Taylor she could handle the situation.
He testified he was frustrated with that situation, didn’t really know the people at the gathering and was uncomfortable with his girlfriend interacting with a man with whom she was friends but with whom she had once been in a relationship, so he left.
Summer Sanders testified Crum did tell her during a game of beer pong that she would have to kiss him if he made the shot. She said the told him she had a baby and man at home, and “he was fine after that.”
She said she and her sister went into a bathroom, where her sister was upset with Taylor for his behavior. Taylor entered, and Sanders told him she could take care of herself regarding Crum.
He then was upset and talked to her about her sister. She said Taylor never engaged in a physical argument with Crum.
Later, she said, while in Crum’s kitchen, the defendant’s behavior changed.
“We were talking. He just stared off into space,” Sanders said.
Sanders said when she tried to shake Crum’s hand, to offer thanks for the meeting and letting them hang out at his home after they left the bar, she received no response. She said it was like he was lost, like “nobody’s home. The lights are off.” When she got into the car, she asked, “What’s wrong with him?”
Jessica Horton, Cowling’s younger sister, testified to knowing Aaron Crum prior to Feb. 24. She testified nearly everyone who attended a gathering at Crum’s home had also been at a bar the night of Feb. 23. She said her brother Josh Cowling stayed at her house with her then-11-year-old son. She returned to her home until her daughter arrived home after midnight. Josh drove her to Crum’s residence and left, Horton testified.
During questioning, Horton said she and her brother were close and admitted he had struggled with addictions in the past — mostly alcohol, but others too. She had him stay with her youngest child when he was in his “sound mind,” which she knew. She admitted her bother in the past had emotional issues and at times had been suicidal, wanting to harm himself; however, she said, “He was fine” Feb. 23.
Horton testified her brother had one beer and left at 1 a.m. or later. He did not interact with Crum at that time, she said. She said Crum earlier in the morning at the party was “at first fine, happy.” She said they played games, then something went on in another room while she was not there. Crum became angry, upset, “ready to fight somebody.” Several of the people present left.
“Aaron was still very angry. I tried to console him. His fists were clenched. He said, ‘I want to kill that guy,’” Horton said.
She said she considered him a friend and tried to give him a hug, encouraging him to “chill out” since the other man was gone, and they could still have fun. She said Crum became calmer but not as calm as he had been earlier.
Horton said she texted her brother to come pick her up. Then, when Josh Cowling arrived, she told him it was OK to enter the residence, and he did. She said she introduced him to Crum, and they shook hands. She went outside to smoke a cigarette, and they realized the door was locked with another woman’s purse still inside. She said she sent text messages and tried several times to call Crum, so they could go back in to get the woman’s purse and leave. She said she received no answer.
She testified Tuesday her brother suggested they knock on the door and went to it.
“Before I knew it, the glass broke everywhere. I looked up at Josh. He showed his hand. It was bleeding,” Horton said.
She wanted to take her brother to the hospital to have his hand treated.
“I looked up. Crum was there with a gun, ready to shoot,” Horton said. “He was at the door with a gun. I was shocked. I had never encountered anything like that.”
Horton said her brother had his hands up and told the man he’d fix the door. She said she tried to get Crum’s attention, said they would fix the door. He told her to take picture. She said she tried to pull it out, but, due to the situation, had trouble doing so and couldn’t get it to work. She claimed Crum reached out with his left arm to beat on her brother. He said his actions were “like a robot marching.” She said when the physical fight occurred, her brother tried to defend himself. Two other men present pulled Crum off her brother, Horton testified.
Horton said she looked up and saw “Aaron back at the door with the gun.” She said her brother adopted the same stance, hands up.
“Crum looked straight at me with a cold look. He said, ‘I fear for my life,’ and pulled the trigger. The gun was in front,” Horton said holding her hands out in front of her. “I saw Josh get shot, saw him fall to the ground, and I called 911.”
When asked, she said she did not believe Crum to be reacting to a situation. To her, he appeared to have “no emotion, really. Not anything.” She said he spoke in monotone as he looked at her. She said after shooting her brother in the head, he walked to the brick wall outside his home and stood against the wall with crossed arms.
She said she did not believe he was in fear for his life but told dispatchers there had been a misunderstanding and that Crum said he feared for his life because she was “trying to get my brother help and at the same time myself safe.” She told dispatchers at the start of the call that her brother was breathing. During the call, she said her brother had stopped breathing. Crum was no longer by her. She said she did not know how to do CPR; however, another man did.
When asked if she knew why her brother was killed, Horton replied, “I don’t know. There was no reason he had to be killed.”
Court resumed Wednesday with officials and witnesses scheduled to testify. Court officials said the trial could take a full week to complete.
The News-Telegram was unable to attend court on Wednesday.