Da Ryan Simms was not only involved in the shooting death of Round Rock resident Jerrod Stanford in 2014, but he also planned to sell a gun used in the killing and later returned to the scene to clean the house, said a woman who testified Thursday during Simms’ capital murder trial.
Simms, 25, faces up to 99 years in prison if convicted.
Lindsey Hanks, who said she was a prostitute who befriended Simms, testified for several hours about what happened before and after Stanford’s death in September 2014. Stanford, 33, was an oilfield consultant who was found dead in his home Sept. 16, 2014, several days after investigators said he was killed.
Hanks initially was charged with capital murder in the case but made a plea agreement in which the charge was downgraded to aggravated robbery in exchange for testifying in Simms’ trial, as well as at the upcoming trial of Kendall Ellis, who also has been charged with capital murder in Stanford’s death.
Hanks has not been sentenced but faces up to 40 years in prison.
Defense attorney Jon Evans began challenging Hanks’ testimony late Thursday afternoon, including her statement that she did not remember what she told police after she was arrested.
“You don’t recall saying you didn’t give a (expletive) that Stanford was dead; that he was a piece of (expletive)?” Evans asked Hanks. “No,” she said.
Evans also said that when Hanks was arrested, she had some of Stanford’s stolen credit cards.
Hanks testified that she met Stanford on Sept. 3, 2014, when she was 22 years old and working for an escort service as a prostitute.
Stanford called her through the BackPage website and she went to his house, she said. They shot up methamphetamine together that night and the next day, she testified.
“We talked about God, and Jerrod said he had a roommate who just moved out and needed a new roommate,” Hanks said. “I told him I didn’t have anywhere to stay, and he was kind of thinking I could be his roommate.”
She said Stanford kept asking her for sex, but she refused, and he eventually asked her to leave.
On the morning of Sept. 5, Hanks said, she was hanging out with Simms and Ellis when Stanford texted her saying he would give her meth if she came over and had sex with him. She decided to drive back to his house with Simms and Ellis, she said.
Hanks said she had told Simms and Ellis about some of Stanford’s possessions, including his guns and a television. She also told them Stanford had money, Hanks said.
When they arrived, she said, Hanks went into Stanford’s house alone and left a short time later, but she returned again after realizing she had left her cellphone in his house. As she was talking with Stanford inside his home, both Simms and Ellis walked in with guns and yelled at him to get on the ground, she said.
Stanford ran instead, and Kendall and Ellis followed him, Hanks said. She said she heard two gunshots spaced a few seconds apart but did not see who fired them. She said she ran into Stanford’s bathroom and saw him lying on the floor bleeding.
“I started freaking out,” said Hanks, who began crying during her testimony. She said Simms threatened to shoot her.
Hanks testified that Simms and Ellis put Stanford’s safe into her car’s back seat, and she drove them away.
In the next few days, she said, she drove Simms to a park near East 51st Street in Austin where he said he had to sell a gun. “He said, ‘I have to get rid of the gun; this is the gun that I used,’” Hanks testified.
She said she didn’t know what happened after she left Simms at the park.
She said she also went back to Stanford’s house with Simms and another man several days after Stanford was killed. They entered the house with gloves on to clean up the crime scene and then carried several items out of Stanford’s house and put them in her car, Hanks said.
She said Simms grabbed the keys to Stanford’s pickup and gave them to her and she drove away in Stanford’s vehicle. Hanks said she later gave Stanford’s vehicle to someone she recently met.