Hands balled into fists, eyes alert, voice crisp, Walter Thompson III made his first court appearance Monday in the murder of his longtime girlfriend Nerissa Shaw, 46, whose body was found last week behind a St. Louis Park industrial building.
Clad in an orange jumpsuit and placed in an enclosed chamber windowed with plexiglass, Thompson shared a bail-setting Hennepin County court date with his sister Senaca and his daughter Rachel, who are being tried as accomplices after the fact for allegedly helping Thompson move Shaw’s body.
Thompson was charged Friday with second-degree homicide. His daughter and sister were charged with felony accomplice after the fact.
The Minneapolis woman's body was found last Tuesday wrapped in purple sheets and dumped near the train tracks behind Angstrom Analytical Inc., a Cedar Lake Road business.
Thompson, 54, spoke in slow, clipped syllables when asked for his name, address and birthplace.
About a dozen Thompson family members were in the courtroom to show support for the two women, according to a family associate. The women exchanged waves, eye contact and even a smile with the familiar faces in the gallery. Walter Thompson leaned his head out of a narrow gap in the plexiglass, settling his gaze on certain members of the audience, but didn't smile or nod and appeared to find little comfort in their presence.
Members of the victim's family were also present in the courtroom.
Judge Fred Karasov ruled that Walter Thompson’s bail would stay set at $2 million until an Oct. 22 hearing.
His daughter and sister’s bail figures were reduced from $500,000 to $10,000.
Rachel Lee Thompson’s attorney asked for leniency in setting bail because of her client’s lack of a criminal record.
Thompson, 25, has been steadily employed as a personal care assistant for the last four years and planned on enrolling in nursing school in January, her attorney said.
“I’m setting the bail as low as it is because you don’t have any criminal history at all,” Kasarov told the woman, “I don’t see you as a high risk, but this is a very serious offense.”
Seneca Thompson was depicted by her attorney as mentally and physically ill, suffering from depression and a recent back surgery. Thompson, 53, has full-time custody over her 6-year-old grandson, who is currently staying with a friend, her attorney said. She was convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2008.All three Thompsons will have their next hearing in late October.