Steven Nelson takes stand at capital murder trial, denies killing pastor

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Associated Press

Posted on October 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 6 at 9:49 AM

FORT WORTH (AP) — A North Texas man testified in his own defense Friday, denying allegations that he killed a suburban Fort Worth pastor and beat a church secretary so he could steal a car.

Steven Nelson took the stand in state district court in Fort Worth after prosecutors rested their capital murder case in the March 2011 slaying of the Rev. Clint Dobson at the Arlington church where he was pastor. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Closing arguments could come as soon as Monday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Prosecutors contend Nelson killed Dobson and beat secretary Judy Elliott senseless before stealing her car.

Nelson denied responsibility, insisting he remained outside the NorthPointe Baptist Church while two friends went inside and committed the deed.

"I didn't injure nobody or threaten nobody," he said under questioning by his attorneys.

"You witnessed something horrible, didn't you? Do you feel remorse?" defense attorney Steve Gordon asked.

"I feel bad. I wouldn't want that to happen to my family or anybody," Nelson said.

Under cross-examination by Tarrant County prosecutor Bob Gill, Nelson admitted he entered the church, but said the 28-year-old minister and his secretary were already sprawled on the church floor. Nelson said both were still breathing, and he admitted stepping around them to steal a laptop computer.

"You were so remorseful that your reaction was to grab a laptop?" Gill asked.

"They were still alive," Nelson replied.

"They were obviously injured and your reaction was to steal from them?" Gill asked.

"Yes, sir," Nelson said.

Earlier in the day, prosecutors introduced what they said were incriminating text messages from Nelson's cell phone. Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the Tarrant County medical examiner, also testified that Dobson died of suffocation from a plastic bag put over his head.

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