COLEMAN, Texas - The man charged in the death of a Brownwood woman in September of 2012 is on trial this week in Coleman.
Lanny Bush, 54, is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Michele Reiter. He also faces charges of online impersonation. He created a Facebook profile and pretended to be someone else in order to continue communicating with Reiter.
Reiter's remains were found buried in a shallow grave in Coleman County two weeks after she disappeared.
The trial, held at the Coleman County Courthouse, proceeded Tuesday morning with the cross-examination of one of Reiter's best friends, Dennise Worrell.
Worrell said she did not support Reiter's relationship with Bush, and when the couple separated, Reiter moved in with her.
Worrell testified that Reiter began a relationship with a married man shortly after she split from Bush.
According to Worrell, Reiter met a man named Rocky Switzer on Facebook. At first Reiter thought he was a stalker, but he claimed to be an old classmate.
"We attempted to look for Switzer in the yearbook, but it seemed odd we couldn't find him," Worrell said.
Yolanda Nino, Reiter's supervisor at Home Depot, was next on the witness stand. She recalled how excited Reiter was to go on a date with Switzer, even though she didn't know who he was.
According to Nino, Reiter was supposed to have her date in Santa Anna on Sept. 10, 2012. That was the day she was last seen. Nino was concerned when Reiter hadn't shown up to work the next day.
Nino cried during her testimony when she told the jury about a post on Bush's Facebook page, saying, "If I can't have her, no one can."
Two days later, Reiter's vehicle was found on FM 45 in Brownwood, near the sports complex, and towed to the Brownwood Police Department.
Brian Tompkins, a Brownwood police detective, took the stand after Nino.
He said there were microscopic specs of blood inside the vehicle but he did not have it tested for DNA.
"The reason is because it was a secondary search several days after it had been found and I did not obtain a search warrant," Tompkins said.
The first person Tompkins began investigating was Rocky Switzer.
"I searched Facebook, contacted DFW PD, Dyess Air Force Base and the Havins Unit to see if he was employed there," Tompkins said. "I turned to those sources based off information provided by Reiter's friends."
On Sept. 16, 2012, Bush admitted to Tompkins that he made up Switzer's profile because he wanted to cause chaos in Reiter's life. However, in a Sept. 19, 2012 interview with a Texas Ranger, Bush said he did it because he just wanted to talk to her. The jury got to watch a roughly five-hour-long video of that interview, which they will complete Wednesday morning.
According to Tompkins, when Reiter's body was found on Sept. 24, 2012, it was in the later stages of decomposition to the point that investigators weren't able to clearly identify her.
First Assistant District Attorney Sam Moss said Facebook messages are expected to be presented to the jury as evidence on Wednesday.
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