Dennise Hayslip was a kind woman — that’s what her son Wade Hayslip would like most people to remember. Dennis was at home in her apartment with Darren Cain when Charles Victor Thompson forced his way in and shot Darren then Dennise.
Thompson started dating Dennise Hayslip, who was twelve years his senior, around June 1997 and soon moved in with her. Thompson rarely worked, but relied on Hayslip and another roommate for support. Thompson became increasingly jealous, possessive, angry, and abusive. Thompson eventually moved out, according to a federal appeals court decision in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
Hayslip began dating Darren Cain, but still occasionally saw Thompson. On April 30, 1998, Thompson was at Hayslip’s apartment when Cain called at around 2:30 a.m. Thompson told Cain “to come over there and he would beat his ass.”
When Cain arrived, Thompson answered the door with a stick. A fight ensued. Thompson lost the fight.
By that time, the police had been called. The responding officer encountered Thompson, Hayslip, and Cain standing outside. Thompson’s eye was blackened from the fight he had started.
Because no one wanted to press criminal charges, a police officer allowed Thompson to leave after threatening him with criminal trespass should he return. After the responding officer escorted him from the premises, Thompson went to get a gun.
Thompson later described to a friend, Diane Zernia, how he returned to Hayslip’s apartment and shot both Hayslip and Cain.
Thompson kicked down the door to Hayslip’s apartment and encountered Cain inside. As Cain grabbed the end of the gun, Thompson began firing. Thompson shot Cain four times, and two bullets missed. After Cain fell to the ground, Thompson reloaded the gun, put it up to Hayslip’s cheek, and said, “I can shoot you too, bitch.”
The gun fired. The bullet traveled through Hayslip’s cheek, into her tongue, and out the other side.
Thompson later claimed that he also tried to shoot himself, causing a wound on his arm.
Neighbors heard the gunshots. Shortly thereafter, Hayslip began knocking on neighbors’ doors. A neighbor found her sitting on the ground, gasping for breath as she leaned forward to prevent drowning in her own blood. When emergency responders arrived, they found Cain dead.
Hayslip was bleeding profusely. Responders took her by life flight to a hospital where she later died.
Leaving the apartment, Thompson threw his gun in a nearby creek. Thompson then went to Zernia’s house and fell asleep on a couch. When he woke up, he described the murders to Zernia.
Thompson then called his father, who picked him up and took him to the police station.
The prosecution particularly emphasized Thompson’s
confession to Zernia that he shot both victims. The main defensive argument at the guilt/innocence phase was that medical malpractice, not the gunshot through Hayslip’s mouth, was the primary cause of her death. The jury convicted Thompson of capital murder. He was sentenced to death.
On direct appeal, Thompson raised issues relating to both the guilt/innocence and punishment phases of trial. In 2001, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that the State violated Thompson’s
rights by relying in the punishment phase on the tape recording of an undercover police officer’s jailhouse conversation with him.