Doctor testifies in Waller case

By Frank Lewis

October 22, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Dr. Wade Douglas of Cabell-Huntington Hospital told a jury in the murder trial of Jeffrey Waller that the man Waller is accused of shooting, James Thurman, died from a shotgun wound to the abdomen, and specifically succumbed to blood loss from a shotgun wound.

Douglas testified Tuesday morning that during surgery on Thurman, they discovered a massive wound which Douglas said entered the left flank (quadrant) of Thurman’s body and exited on the right side of the stomach area, and that the surgical team had to remove a segment of his stomach - “that couldn’t be repaired,” removed a portion of the colon, a segment of the small bowel and the spleen.

Douglas described a burn the “size of a (shotgun) barrel.” And Douglas made repeated reference to a hematoma, and to finding a piece of plastic from a shotgun shell and several pellets in the body. Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn unsealed a bag that had been kept with evidence from the hospital which contained those items.

Kuhn presented a document that contained a page for every unit of blood Thurman received during his treatment, and stopped at 20, though there were more.

“Is that representative of massive bleeding,?” Kuhn asked.

Douglas responded in the affirmative.

“Did it become apparent at some point that Mr. Thurman was not going to survive?” Kuhn asked.

Douglas responded that point came when it became obvious to him that the central hematoma was not going to stop bleeding, and when his blood pressure and heartbeat began to shrink.

The only question posed by defense attorney Bill Dever was where the shell entered and where it exited, and Douglas showed the jury the two places on his own body.

A flight nurse from Air-Evac, who also works at St. Mary’s Hospital in Huntington, testified they landed a helicopter at Valley High School, and that she probably waited 20 minutes for the squad to arrive with Thurman. She said she was concerned after having heard about the incident, that Thurman might not be stable enough to fly.

After he arrived she said she observed massive bleading, but that he was alert and talking and that he knew what had happened to him, telling her he was “struck with something then shot with a shotgun.” She said he deteriorated after that.

Waller is accused of killing Thurman with a shotgun after Thurman had spent four days in the home of his wife, Waller’s girlfriend, Anna Thurman. According to Anna Thurman’s testimony, she and Waller were sitting on the bed when Thurman came into the back bedroom and his foot either shoved or kicked Waller in the back of the head. Seconds later, Waller reportedly fired the gun, striking Thurman.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.