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Man Faces Trial in Fatal Easton Stabbing

Lawrence Gaines is accused of stabbing William Thompson to death in July.

Man Faces Trial in Fatal Easton Stabbing Man Faces Trial in Fatal Easton Stabbing

Their legal names are Lawrence Gaines and William Thompson.

But in their circle, they were known by nicknames "L" and "Pancho."

Early on the morning of July 3, a dispute between the two men left Thompson dead and Gaines, 44, in jail. And on Friday, a judge ruled that Gaines should stand trial for homicide in Thompson's death.

District Judge Gay Elwell made that ruling after hearing from a witness who described a fight between Gaines and Thompson that ended with Gaines allegedly stabbing Thompson several times on the 600 block of Ferry Street.

Witness Tony Williams testified that he was at a home on that block that morning with several people -- including Gaines -- when Thompson showed up and banged on the door.

Williams said Thompson -- whom he knew only as "Pancho" -- asked if anything was "going on," meaning he was asking if drugs were for sale. He was turned away, but kept banging on the door until Gaines went out and confronted him. Williams said he couldn't make out what they were saying.

"But I can hear the conversation escalating," he testified.

It escalated to the point that Gaines punched Thompson in the face, knocking him down. Then he got on top of Thompson and hit him again and again, Williams said.

"At this point, I pull L off him, like, you know 'Let it go, it ain't worth it!'" he testified.

Thompson left, walked a few doors up the street, and found a stick. He came back and hit Gaines with it, Williams said. That's when Gaines pulled a folding knife from his back pocket.

He told Thompson "Oh, it's like that?" and then they began to tussle, Williams said. He saw Gaines stab Thompson.

"At least three, four, five stab wounds," he said.

It was exactly five, Easton Police Inspector Daniel Reagan would testify later. Police have said in court documents that Gaines had -- in the days before Thompson died -- boasted to an acquaitance that he'd "just got out of jail and would stab a motherf---er."

On cross-examination, Williams admitted to defense attorney Robert Sletvold that he had smoked crack sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. on the morning of the stabbing.

Sletvold also questioned Reagan on the distinction between a medical ruling of "homicide" as a manner of death and the actual crime of homicide.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Sletvold stopped short of saying he would pursue a self-defense case. 

"What I heard today leads me to conclude that there is a lot more investigation that needs to be done," he said.

Thompson's death was the second of three homicides in Easton so far this year. 

The first was the death of Matthew Kelly, a 20-year-old Nazareth native who was killed during a shooting April 1 in the 1100 block of Spruce Street. His death is being investigated by the Northampton County grand jury.

On July 27, a few weeks after Thompson's death, a man named George Jeter was shot to death on 14th Street. The man police say shot Jeter -- Naheem Adams -- is still at large. 

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