CALDWELL — Mark Lankford provided his own testimony Thursday during his second retrial for murder, maintaining he was not present for the 1983 slayings of a Texas couple at an Idaho County campground.
It wasn’t his “first rodeo,” Lankford said, as he assured Nez Perce County 2nd District Judge Jay Gaskill that he understood his rights and wanted to testify on his own behalf.
“The court, the public, and the people and the jury, I feel, deserve to hear me speak,” he said.
Lankford and his brother, Bryan Lankford, were both convicted in 1984 of killing U.S. Marine Capt. Robert Bravence, 28, and his wife, Cheryl, 25, in June 1983. Mark Lankford, the older of the brothers, has successfully appealed his conviction twice and is now standing trial a third time, with the Canyon County Courthouse as the venue.
Mark Lankford, 63, maintained Thursday that he was not present when the Bravences were killed. He claimed he never saw the Bravences alive, but he did assist his brother in placing their bodies in a van and leaving them in the woods. An elk hunter discovered the bodies three months later.
Lankford said he thought his brother’s choice to kill the couple was for nothing. Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Justin Paskett asked Lankford why, then, he would help his brother cover up the murders.
“He’s my little brother,” Lankford said. He explained he just didn’t have the genetic makeup to turn on his family.
Earlier this week, Bryan Lankford testified he was the sole killer. He’s provided inconsistent testimony in the 36 years since he was arrested.
Bryan Lankford again made an appearance at the Canyon County Courthouse on Thursday after being recalled by prosecution. Questioning stemmed from phone calls he made from prison in October 2018, when he said he would do anything to get his brother acquitted and would try to blow the prosecution out of the water, according to Canyon County Deputy Prosecutor Doug Robertson.
Bryan Lankford said Thursday he did not recall making those statements.
In the ninth day of trial, defense requested Gaskill consider approving an acquittal, as Bryan Lankford had taken full responsibility over the last three days he had appeared in court.
Gaskill, however, believed there was enough evidence to let the jury make the decision and denied the motion, but said he would reserve his ruling on that.
The state rested its case Thursday, and defense will continue presenting its witnesses today.