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Man charged with attempted murder of cop convicted of assault

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Thompkins still faces lengthy prison sentence

By BEN CARLSON

The man charged with attempting to murder former Lawrenceburg police officer Clay Crouch was convicted this afternoon on a lesser count of first-degree assault, but will still be facing a lengthy stretch in prison.

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The jury also convicted John Thompkins, 38, of Danville on charges including first-degree fleeing police, first-degree possession of methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of a handgun following a three-day trial in Anderson Circuit Court.

He was found not guilty on a charge of first-degree wanton endangerment.

As the jury deliberated a charge that Thompkins, who has a lengthy criminal record, is a persistent felony offender, it appeared prosecutors and his public defender reached a plea arrangement that would put Thompkins behind bars for 30 years. Thompkins, who accepted the offer, will have to serve a minimum of 12 and a half years.

The incident occurred in November of 2015 when Thompkins lead Crouch on a high-speed chase that began at the intersection of U.S. 127 Bypass and U.S. Highway 62 and ended when Thompkins’ vehicle crashed into a pickup truck driven by Lawrenceburg’s Jimmy Desponnett on Ballard Road.

Police alleged that immediately following his head-on wreck, Thompkins shot at Crouch, who had exited his vehicle and was able to get between Thompkins and Desponnett. Crouch returned fire, hitting Thompkins in the mouth.

During the trial, Crouch and deputy Tony Likins, who was behind Crouch during the car chase, both testified that they saw Thompkins with a gun but did not hear him fire a shot.

Desponnett said he saw Thompkins point the gun and fire a round, saying Crouch stepped in front of him to shield him from the gunfire.

Thompkins’ attorney, public defender Londa Adkins, hammered repeatedly on Desponnett’s testimony, pointing out several times that the pistol Thompkins’ was accused of using was silver and that Desponnett testified its barrel was black.

She needled Desponnett over that point, saying that during his testimony he discussed his knowledge of guns and said he is a 44-year member of the NRA, yet couldn’t properly identify the color of the gun pointed in his direction.

She also pointed out to the jury at least twice that Desponnett’s hearing aids were jolted from his ears during the wreck, which also popped both of his eardrums.

Desponnett fired back, telling Adkins, “What happened that day happened, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Desponnett, who suffered 11 broken bones and other injuries in the wreck bristled at said he was disappointed that Thompkins wasn’t convicted on the attempted murder charge.

“I don’t like it at all,” said Desponnett, who still faces surgery to repair damage to his arms. “I’m very disappointed. “That gun was fired and that gun went off.

“I don’t care what color the barrel was, but I was looking straight down the hole of that barrel, and looked down it every night when I’d have nightmares about it for the next six months.”

For more, see Wednesday’s edition of The Anderson News.