Wednesday, July 23, 1997
Neighbor testifies
to death threat

Woman says she saw
Doan, Culberson fight

BY LISA DONOVAN
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WILMINGTON, Ohio - Billie Jo Brown had just gone to bed early Aug. 29, when she got back up and went to her window to see who was arguing on the lawn of her Blanchester home.

Billie Jo Brown
Billie Jo Brown testifies how she saw Carrie Culberson fighting off Vincent Doan on the night she was last seen alive.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
It was her neighbor, Vincent Doan, and his girlfriend, Carrie Culberson, Mrs. Brown testified Tuesday in a Clinton County courtroom.

''He said to her, 'I told you the next time I'd kill you,''' Mrs. Brown told jurors.

Grabbing Ms. Culberson by the arm, she testified, Mr. Doan swung her around and punched her in the face.

Mrs. Brown was one of five witnesses who testified Tuesday for the prosecution in the capital murder trial of Mr. Doan, 24, of Blanchester, accused of killing Ms. Culberson.

Ms. Culberson was hollering for help, Mrs. Brown testified. , But during questioning by one of Mr. Doan's attorneys, John Rion, she said neither she nor her husband interceded because her husband thought the couple had been drinking. They had no telephone to call police.

An Aug. 31 TV news report about Ms. Culberson's disappearance prompted Mrs. Brown to go to police, she testified.

Mr. Rion raised concerns about her delay in notifying authorities, and challenged Mrs. Brown's credibility with questions about her convictions and a jail sentence she served for passing bad checks.

Prosecutors continued to develop a sort of time line for the hours leading up to Ms. Culberson's alleged slaying Aug. 29.

A longtime friend of Ms. Culberson's, Jessica Williams, discussed the evening of Aug. 28, when they played volleyball in Morrow. Mr. Doan had shown up at the sand volleyball courts and talked to Ms. Culberson briefly, Ms. Williams testified. He left angry, and later that night, Ms. Culberson asked Ms. Williams to drive her past his home, she said.

She testified she drove Ms. Culberson home about 11:30 p.m., which neighbor Kim Lannerd verified in her testimony.

Ms. Lannerd said she saw Ms. Culberson cross Bourbon Street toward the house she shared with her mother and sister. But a few moments later, Ms. Lannerd testified, Ms. Culberson's red Honda CRX backed onto the street and pulled away without its headlights on.

By 12:30 a.m., Ms. Culberson and Mr. Doan were seen arguing at his neighbor's home on Wright Street in Blanchester, according to Mrs. Brown's testimony.

In the next several hours, Mr. Doan would knock on the doors of Jeff Warren in Clermont County and half brother Tracey Baker in Blanchester, witnesses told jurors.

Mr. Warren testified that about 1:15 a.m., Mr. Doan came to the door and asked whether he could use the phone because he had run out of gasoline.

Two hours later, Mr. Doan was knocking at the door of Mr. Baker, Vicki Watkins testified. Ms. Watkins, who was spending the night at the Baker residence, heard Mr. Doan's knock at the door about 3:15 a.m. She is the twin sister of Lori Baker, who had been living with her estranged husband at the Supinger Street home in Blanchester.

Again, Mr. Rion attempted to poke holes in the credibility of the witnesses. At one point, Ms. Watkins admitted to lying during earlier testimony Tuesday.

Although she testified she didn't talk to police about the case until October, Ms. Watkins later said, under cross-examination, she had been approached by police in September, and ''I told them I didn't know nothing.''

Ms. Watkins said she and her sister, who is expected to take the stand today, were both afraid to give authorities details about the case.