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Pretrial Testimony for Man Accused of Killing Trooper Continues

Seven prosecution witnesses testified on Thursday, as the pretrial hearing for the man accused of killing New York State Trooper Christopher Skinner continued in Broome County Court.

Thursday's hearing was a continuation of a hearing held on March 3rd, to determine whether statements Almond Upton made to police on May 29, 2014 were voluntary.

On that day in 2014, the 62-year-old Florida man allegedly plowed down Trooper Skinner while driving north on I-81. Skinner was conducting a traffic stop at the time. Upton was later captured naked in a wooded area.

In Thursday’s hearing, authorities testified about interactions made before and after he was taken into custody.

The first officer to detain Upton, Trooper Orry Ostrander, took to the stand first. According to Ostrander, when he asked Upton if he knew why he was being arrested, Upton stated, “I killed him.”

Meagan Parslow, a trooper who helped transport Upton after his capture, said he stated, “I should have laid down so the dogs couldn’t find me...”

Parslow added that he asked her if the incident had made news, and if it was national.

Upton is also reported to have said the words, "Meagan, I love you," while he was being transported.

According to authorities, Upton referred to himself as “Jesus Christ” after being taken into custody.

State Police Investigator William Baumgartner stated that in Upton's interview with police, he said he was directed to do it by Jesus and the devil.

Police also testified that Upton stated he intentionally did it.

Further testimony claimed Upton felt Skinner "shouldn't have messed with someone who didn't do anything," and that the driver reminded Upton of his mother. Reports state that the driver Skinner pulled over was a male.

A Drug Recognition Expert, who evaluated Upton in custody, said he made claims that he was tired and had not slept for days.

According to police, Upton did not show signs of drug or alcohol impairment.

Police say that while Upton stated he “could’ve had an attorney,” after being interviewed, he did not make any specific requests to speak to one while they conducted the interview. Upton had been read his Miranda Rights when he was taken into custody.

Authorities added that he was not coerced, threatened or intimidated in any way, and made all of these statements voluntarily.

Upton has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and remains in the Broome County Jail.

Upton is expected to use an insanity defense after the murder trial begins this July.

According to attorney Benjamin Bergman, who is a Special Prosecutor for the case, the entire month of July has been set aside for the trial.

The defense now has until April 8 to file what the court calls "closing submissions." Prosecution will also have the chance to file a response.