Fort Worth woman found not guilty of helping boyfriend dump body

Posted Friday, Nov. 08, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A jury found a Fort Worth woman not guilty Friday of helping her boyfriend dispose of the body of a man he shot 12 times.

Lisa Juran, 52, had been charged with tampering with evidence in the death of Walter “James” Anders, 51, whose body was found May 30, 2012, near railroad tracks in the 1800 block of Eighth Avenue on Fort Worth’s south side.

Juran was accused of helping her boyfriend, George Thurston, dump the body. Juran told police that she helped Thurston load a large bundle onto her pickup and that she believed she saw a shoe extending from the bundle, according to testimony and police documents.

But she also told police that she had no idea what was going on until days after Anders was killed.

“She knew,” said Kelly Loftus, the Tarrant County prosecutor who tried the case with Tim Bednarz. “She says during the police interview, ‘That’s tampering with evidence and that’s a felony.’”

Thurston was acquitted in May of murder but was convicted of tampering with evidence and sentenced to 80 years in prison. His attorneys said Thurston shot Anders in self-defense.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Thurston dismantled the gun into 10 pieces, put the parts inside plastic bags and threw them in different trash bins. He then scoured Juran’s garage with bleach, plugged in a large fan and placed air fresheners around to mask the smell of the decomposing body, according to authorities. He bundled Anders’ body in a sleeping bag and tied it with rope.

Had Juran been convicted of the tampering charge, she would have faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Her attorneys contend that Juran did not piece together the chain of events that surrounded Anders’ slaying until after June 6, when an investigator posted fliers asking for information about Anders.

Juran told investigators that she considered calling police when she first saw the fliers but decided not to after talking to Thurston.

Thurston asked Juran what she would say and told her that she knew nothing. Prosecutors told the jury that one of Juran’s favorite sayings was that if you did not see anything and you did not hear anything, it did not happen.

Police said during a recorded interview with Juran that they would have liked to know that Anders worked with Thurston doing odd jobs at Juran’s house in the 3900 block of Birchman Avenue.

But neither Thurston nor Juran called them. Juran, who breeds and raises bucking bulls, is a great-granddaughter of former Fort Worth Mayor H.C. Meacham and a great-niece of the late Minnie Meacham Carter, widow of Star-Telegram founder Amon G. Carter Sr.

“By the time the detectives knock on the door on June 12, she’s figured it all out,” defense attorney Reagan Wynn said during closing arguments Thursday. “And, of course, she’s scared and nervous. She helped move the body.”

Juran was and perhaps still is in love with Thurston, her attorneys said in state District Judge Mollee Westfall’s court.

Juran, who testified for the state during Thurston’s trial, blamed herself for “ratting out” her boyfriend to police after he made her swear that she would not talk. Juran told detectives that Thurston would be angry when he found out that she had talked to police.

“That’s my biggest fear in this case,” Wynn told the jury. “That you’ll be mad at Lisa for trying to protect this knucklehead.”

Bednarz told the jury that Juran knew exactly what was going on despite her claims otherwise. Juran helped pick up Anders’ body and had to know something after lifting more than 100 pounds of dead weight, Bednarz said.

“The only thing in that bundle was a human body, and there’s no way you could pick that up and not feel an arm or a leg or something,” Bednarz said.

“Walter James Anders is filled with bullet holes on her property, and this is a problem for her. She doesn’t want to bring scandal to her family or get her or George put in jail. They said, ‘Look, it’s self-defense: Why should we get in trouble for it? Let’s just get rid of the body.’”

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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