He says at the time he couldn't remember everything clearly and spent the night going over documents. He says with his heart condition and Parkinson's Disease testifying has worn him out. The prosecutor, Kansas Securities Commissioner Chris Biggs would not let him go back to issues from Thursday. He told Etheredge to wait for the re-direct from his defense attorney.
After that, Etheredge often questioned Biggs. He also pointed out instances where he felt Biggs was wrong or trying to mislead him. The judge stepped in on several occasions telling Etheredge to answer the question asked. He says testimony is not like a normal two way conversation.
Biggs focused a lot of his questioning on different documents from Etheredge's past. When he got to the subject of Wild West World, Etheredge says he worked his tail off on the project. He says he put everything he had into it and was convinced it would be a success.
Concern About Money
During questioning, Etheredge says he didn't have investors in the park he called them lenders. The first lender, Dr. Rob Dillard offered $200,000 after a prayer group where Etheredge prayed for money to fall into place for the park. Etheredge called Dillard's money a gift from God. But Biggs asked him, didn't you plant the seed when you told him you had a need for $200,000? "Mr. Biggs have you ever had prayer, that's not the truth and you know that. We were prayer partners and he shared some personal info with me as well," Etheredge said.
Etheredge says he prayed often about the park because money was always a concern. He says he shared those concerns with the people who gave him money. "We would walk through the park and I was constantly saying we were behind because of the rain. We were talking about how costs were escalating. That was constant knowledge and these were such close family friends that we talked regularly about those types of things," Etheredge said.
What Investors Knew
Biggs asked whether Etheredge had talked in detail to his investors about his criminal past. He says he didn't. He says thousands of people had heard him speak about his time in prison and read the book "Real Men Real Faith". He says the book said he faced 1,000 years in prison and that obviously wasn't for a traffic ticket. Etheredge says if people wanted to know more, they could have asked and he would have told them everything.
But Biggs pointed out Etheredge did not point out his 1970's bad check conviction on loan documents with area banks. Etheredge says that's because the requirement was only the past 20 years. "Mr. Biggs at some point in time I've got to come to an end as to how far back in ones life, I'm 55 years of age," Etheredge said.
He says his past has nothing to do with the park closing. He says it was all because of the weather. Etherdge says he didn't do anything wrong and never lied about his past to the people who gave him money. "I don't know if they did due diligence or not. I do know that these people loved me and I loved them. Together we did what we said, we built a park," Etheredge said.
Monday at 1PM, closing arguments will begin. Each side will be given an hour and a half. Afterwards the jury will begin deliberations. They must decide whether Etheredge mislead investors in Wild West World. He's charged with nine counts of securities fraud.
Thursday Feb. 4, 2010
When asked the question of whether he ever lied or mislead investors into giving money to Wild West World, Thomas Etheredge answered absolutely not. That was the last thing defense attorneys asked Etheredge Thursday. They spent more than ten hours questioning him over the last two days.