MCKINNEY -- The mother of a Frisco fitness instructor who was murdered and dumped in a field says the victim’s ex-boyfriend was obsessed with her and showered her with gifts.
Testimony began Monday in the McKinney trial of Terrence Deering Black, 48, who is charged with capital murder in the slaying of Susan Loper, his ex-girlfriend. The 40-year-old fitness instructor went missing on April 17, 2011.
Authorities found her beaten body three days later in a wooded area just off the Dallas North Tollway and John Hickman Parkway –– not far from where authorities found her abandoned Toyota RAV4.
Loper’s mother, Catherine Miller, was the first witness called during testimony. She told jurors that Black gave her expensive gifts he couldn’t afford.
Black listened to the testimony intently, donned in a black suit.
Laura Curren, a Pilates student who was the first person at Loper's studio at the Gleneagles Country Club after she went missing, also took the stand.
Curren said she saw what she initially believed to be water on the floor of the studio, but soon discovered it was blood. She said the studio was in disarray and she found a bullet on the floor. A housekeeper for the country club said she discovered Loper's purse outside the door of the studio.
But during opening statements, Black’s attorney Jim Burnham said the state has no physical evidence connecting his client to the murder. The suspect was arrested in Arizona after flinging himself over a 25-foot high ledge at the Grand Canyon while fleeing from park rangers.
Prosecutor John Schomburger responded that the state has evidence pulled from Black’s cell phone and his vehicle's Toll Tag that puts the suspect at the crime scenes.
Several country club employees also described the grisly setting. Housekeeper Cruz Hernandez told the jury he found a woman's purse just outside the studio door. Club employees who examined the purse identified it as Loper's.
Plano officer Joel Scott told the jury he found Loper's body near a wheat field in Frisco. He acted on information from Loper's toll tag, showing the car exiting at Lebanon Road and reentering the Dallas North Tollway 15 minutes later.
The initial search warrant of Black's residence notes his and Loper's relationship suffered a bitter end. Black "became obsessed and his actions toward her were described as 'smothering,'" the document says.
Miller also told investigators that Black tried to restart the relationship numerous times and was always turned down, the warrant says.
On Monday, Schomburger pointed to Black jumping off the Grand Canyon as evidence of guilt.
Burnham, however, told jurors repeatedly “attempted suicide is not evidence of murder.” The defense maintained Black was upset over Loper’s murder and his money troubles and questioned why the fitness instructor’s most recent boyfriend wasn’t questioned further –– the defense said his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.
Testimony continues Tuesday morning.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.