SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — John Wayne Thomson, the man accused of killing Longview’s Lori Hamm, suffered from psychotic disorder and severe drug dependency, according to testimony at his California murder trial Thursday.
Thomson, now 53, also was suicidal and had frequent homicidal tendencies after he was arrested, mental health worker Tamara Weaver testified Thursday as defense lawyers began presenting their case. Prosecutors completed their case Wednesday.
Thomson faces the death penalty in California if convicted of fatally stabbing 55-year-old Charles Hedlund in San Bernardino County in 2006. He also faces two murder charges in Washington — one for Hamm’s death in Cowlitz County, another for the slaying of James Ehrgot in Spokane —
in what police say were part of month-long crime spree. If Thomson is convicted and receives the death penalty in California, it’s unknown whether he will stand trail for the Washington slayings. In police interviews after his death, Thomson said he killed all three, but he has not formally admitted guilt in court.
Weaver, a defense witness, is a clinical therapist for the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health. But in September 2006, when she was with the Mental Health Services at West Valley Detention Center, she worked with Thomson after his arrest, meeting with him at his cell door.
She determined that Thomson had been addicted to three or more substances at one time — methamphetamine, which he used daily, leading up to his arrest; marijuana, which he used frequently; and cocaine, which he used whenever it was around.
Thomson also experienced both audio and visual hallucinations, Weaver said.
“He frequently complained of ringing in his ears. He heard TV static and a baseball game,” she said. “He saw somebody sitting at his desk in his cell.”
Thomson also said he was depressed and had thoughts of suicide, Weaver testified. In August 2007, he overdosed on pills and had to be taken to a hospital. At his August 2006 arrest, Thomson asked for the dealth penatly and told police he wanted to die, according to previous testimony.
In addition to thoughts of suicide, Thomson had homicidal thoughts, Weaver testified. Almost every time Weaver spoke with him, which was about 30 times in 3 1/2 years, Thomson said he thought about hurting other people, such as his neighbor or another inmate. Thomson, who was raised in Cowlitz County, is a three-times convicted rapist, including two rapes in Cowlitz County.
Thomson’s symptoms decreased with treatment and changes in his housing, specifically when he was moved from isolation to a normal cell, Weaver said.
The last time she saw Thomson was in April 2010, when she changed jobs.
Hedlund’s body was found Aug. 5, 2006, along a highway pass in California. He had been bludgeoned and stabbed multiple times and his tongue was severed, authorities said. Thomson told police after his arrest that he killed Hedlund after he made a sexual advance towards him, according to previous testimony.
Thomson, who has pleaded not guilty, was arrested on Aug. 7, 2006 after a manhut that included the FBI.
Testimony resumes Monday. Defense attorneys are expected to call a psychologist who administered tests to Thomson.
— Daily News reporter Barbara LaBoe contributed to this story.