The Norman Transcript

February 25, 2014

Accused's fiancee gives chilling testimony at preliminary hearing

Defense looks to establish Thompson as drug, alcohol abuser

Jessica Bruha
The Norman Transcript

CHICKASHA —

     A friend of murder victim Sara Maisano recalled being struck by Steven Thompson before she saw him hit Maisano at a home in Amber.

Katie Garner was the first witness to take the stand during a preliminary hearing in Thompson’s first-degree murder trial Tuesday in Grady County District Court.

Garner retold the events she could remember on June 23 leading up to the murder of her friend, Sara Maisano, 23, of Norman. Thompson, 27, is facing a first-degree murder charge for Maisano’s death. He is also facing an assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charge after allegedly severely beating Garner.

Garner and Thompson were engaged at the time the events unfolded in their Amber home. Defense attorney Mitch Solomon questioned Garner whether she knew that Thompson was upset with her relationship with Maisano, but Garner said she couldn’t remember.

The women worked at Norman Regional Hospital together for about six months during which time they became friends. Maisano was planning on staying with Garner that night because they had the same work shift the next day. Maisano was the daughter of deputy Norman Police Chief Jim Maisano.

Garner said Maisano was planning on spending the night with her because Maisano was having problems at home. When the women got to the Amber residence, Thompson was acting “odd,” Garner said.

Thompson came out to the car, banging on Garner’s driver side window, got a bottle of liquor out of the car Garner had picked up for him and went back into the house. Seconds later, he came out of the house with a shotgun before Garner told him to go back into the house.

After Garner and Maisano went into the home, Thompson was apologetic and since the girls had been swimming they went to change out of their bathing suits. Afterwards, Thompson had called Garner into their bedroom. Garner said he was upset because she got home so late.

The argument escalated to Thompson getting physical and breaking Garner’s necklace in the process, Garner testified. After that she remembers Sara making a comment along the lines of “What kind of man are you to put your hands on a woman,” Garner said.

The next thing she remembered was her and Maisano on their knees while Thompson repeatedly struck her in the face with his shot gun. Garner suffered a skull fracture, multiple fractures to the face, a broken jaw, lacerations and traumatic brain injury during the assault.

At some point Garner said she remembered Maisano putting her arm over her while Thompson was striking her in the face with the shot gun and Maisano telling Thompson, “Okay, she’s had enough.”

“He grabbed her by her hair and struck her in the face with his hand,” Garner said. That is the only time Garner can recall Thompson striking Maisano before she lost consciousness.

At some point during the assault, Thompson had turned away and Garner said she remembered nodding toward Maisano and looking at the spare bedroom, signaling that at the next opportunity they would try to get to the bedroom and get away from Thompson.

She remembers making an attempt to get to the spare bedroom, but said she must have lost consciousness before getting there. The next morning she woke up covered in blood with a bloody pillow lying underneath her head on the spare bedroom floor.

“I figured out I was able to crawl. It was hard to see, I was bleeding out of my eyes,” Garner said. “I saw Sara’s legs hanging off the bed so I grabbed her leg to shake her.”

There was no response. Garner was able to crawl out of the bedroom, locking the bedroom door behind her to try and protect Maisano if Thompson was still in the house, she said.

She found Thompson sitting on the couch with his head down.

“How do you feel about me killing your homegirl?” Garner said Thompson asked her.

When she asked what he was talking about, he repeated the same question. The whole time, Thompson was very flat and emotionless, Garner said.

Afterwards she remembers Thompson pacing back and forth, talking on the phone and then hearing Thompson’s father’s truck pull up as he said “Go, go, go” and left the residence. Garner said apparently Thompson had called the police and told them there was a body in the house.

Solomon then began to question Garner about her and Thompson’s alcohol and prescription drug abuse. He asked many questions about her texts to Thompson throughout the day, asking her if she remembered Thompson telling her not to come home that night, but Garner said she couldn’t remember.

Two more witnesses are expected to take the stand Tuesday, according to the prosecutor.