’89 murder case going to trial again

A man accused of killing a 15-year-old girl 30 years ago told Judge Stacy Trotter he was ready for another jury trial, after his trial last year resulted in a hung jury.

Trotter held a status conference in the 358th District Court at 3 p.m. Wednesday on the request of the defendant, 55-year-old Thompson Ward Stricklen Jr. Stricklen’s attorney, Jason Leach, told Trotter he had been consulting with his client, who wanted to let Trotter know he was ready to proceed with another jury trial. When asked by Trotter, Stricklen said this was the case.

“Just trying to get this on the road,” Stricklen told him.

Trotter told them he couldn’t set the trial today, but said they would reconvene at 10 a.m. July 8 to set a court date. He added that the case likely wouldn’t be scheduled until fall of this year.

This is the second time Stricklen is being tried for the killing of 15-year-old Wendy Burdette in 1989. He was last tried almost a year ago, but no verdict could be reached by the jury after they had deliberated for more than seven hours.

Stricklen was first indicted in 2015, after semen found inside Burdette matched Stricklen’s DNA. But in an audio recording played during the previous trial, Stricklen denied killing Burdette or anyone to Odessa police officers.

There were multiple other suspects brought up during the trial, who the police could never arrest due to a lack of evidence, and Leach told jurors at the time he didn’t think they could rule out other suspects.

Bill Prasher is the prosecutor on the case, and said during the previous trial that no other suspect had any connection to the crime scene, only Stricklen did.

Stricklen has been sitting in the Ector County Detention Center since that trial, and has been booked there since 2015. He has three bonds totaling $650,000.

Should Stricklen be found guilty of first-degree murder this time around, he could be sentenced to serve anywhere between 25 and 99 years in prison.