FORT WORTH — Walter “James” Anders grabbed a knife and intended to stab George Thurston moments before Thurston shot him to death, the defense told the jury during opening statements at Thurston’s murder trial Tuesday.Thurston shot Anders to protect himself, said Steven Bush, Thurston’s lawyer. Anders was shot 12 times, according to the Tarrant County medical examiner. Thurston could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison if convicted of murder.“There’s lots of evidence of homicide but not of murder,” Bush said. “The evidence will show this was self-defense. He had to make a split-second decision whether to let James come after him with that knife or whether he was going to stop him. He decided to stop him.”Thurston’s girlfriend, Lisa Juran, has been charged with tampering with evidence and is suspected of helping Thurston dispose of the body. Police said Juran, who breeds and raises bucking bulls for competition, met Anders and reconnected with Thurston through her volunteer work at the First Street Methodist Mission in Fort Worth.Juran is the great-granddaughter of former Mayor H.C. Meacham and the great-niece of the late Minnie Meacham Carter, the widow of Star-Telegram founder Amon G. Carter Sr.Anders, 51, helped Thurston, 56, with odd jobs around her home. They were working on the eaves of Juran’s home the day Anders was killed, Bush said.The day of the shooting, Anders bought a bottle of rum and Thurston bought beer and cigarettes, Bush told the jury. When the men returned from buying alcohol, Thurston started cleaning three guns that Juran kept in the house, Bush said.Bush said Thurston told Anders to leave when he became intoxicated. When Anders refused, the two men began fighting. Anders fell to the ground and pulled a knife on Thurston as he tried to get up, Bush said.“There’s no upside to this story,” Bush said. “It’s sad for everyone involved. James was a different man when he was drunk.”Thurston was sure that someone heard the gunshots and called police, but they never came, Bush said. Juran was not home when the shooting occurred.Thurston wrapped the body in a blue blanket and tied it with a nylon cord. He tried to load it in Juran’s pickup, but the body was too heavy. He asked Juran to help.“He takes the body and dumps it out near the railroad tracks where he’s sure someone will find it,” Bush said.Anders’ badly decomposed body was found May 30, concealed in a sleeping bag that had been tied with nylon rope and discarded near railroad tracks in a semiwooded area west of Eighth Avenue and north of Windsor Place, according to witness testimony.The trial will continue Wednesday in state District Judge Mollee Westfall’s court.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3