I am a Killer season 1, episode 5 recap: Intended Evil


Episode 5 of Netflix series I am a Killer looks into a double homicide in Houston, Texas. Did Charles Thompson or the hospital kill his ex?

In his interview with I am a Killer, Charles Thompson doesn’t seem particularly evil at first. He’s on death for murdering his ex, Dennise Hayslip, and her new lover, Darren Cain, but he makes it sound like an accident.

He explains that she was the “life of the party” type, and he never meant to kill her. According to Thompson, things just got out of hand in a love triangle scenario. Regarding his previous arrest for hitting Dennise, he claims she hit him and he drunkenly hit her.

It already seems like Charles Thompson has plenty of “accidents” (and plenty of potential for further ones).

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On the night of the murder, Dennise was already considering Charles her ex. Not surprisingly, then, Charles found a bartender guy — Darren Cain — in bed with “his girl.”

Thompson then says Darren came at him with a knife, and Thompson’s gun accidentally went off and both Darren and Dennise were shot.

Thompson even claims his 9-11 call didn’t go through (but couldn’t he have tried dialing again, or maybe screaming for immediate help from a neighbor?). He did go to a friend’s house later, but he doesn’t go into what happened there much. We simply know he was arrested.

Charles Thompson’s Idea: Dennise’s Death was the Hospital’s Fault

Initially, Charles Thompson was charged with manslaughter for Cain and aggravated assault for Hayslip.  However, when Dennise died in the hospital the charge became a double homicide. However, when the Hayslip family sued the hospital for wrongful death, this essentially became Thompson’s defense.

Ellis McCullough, Thompson’s original Defense Attorney, maintains that the cause of her death was inadequate treatment at the hospital. She was expected to pull through but didn’t, therefore Thompson isn’t quite at fault.

McCullough plainly argues that had Dennise survived, Thompson couldn’t have received the death penalty. It’s one of the weirdest cases on I am a Killer so far. There was even something to the defense, as crazy as it sounds.

Dr. Paul Radelat, an expert medical witness for the defense, testified that Hayslip’s injury was not a lethal wound.  Also, medical records show Dennise’s breathing tube was dislodged from her windpipe, and she lacked oxygen for between 5 and 10 minutes.

Still, Dr. Radelat isn’t entirely on Thompson’s side. He says that medical personnel didn’t intend evil, and the shooter did. Meanwhile, the medical malpractice suit found the hospital staff wasn’t at fault.

It brings up interesting legal and philosophical questions. However, it should be remembered that, in a case like this, both a shooter and a medical facility could be at fault for a person’s death. Obviously, it’s not an either/or equation.

The Jury seemed to understand this, too, because Charles Thompson is on death row.

Further Holes in Thompson’s Defense

As I am a Killer proceeds, the episode makes Thompson look worse and worse, and almost objectively. Hayslip’s brother, Michael Donaghy, attributes Dennise’s death to jealousy. Indeed, there was a strong motive for Thompson to kill (given his capacity for anger). While most of us get over exes and move on like adults, some people don’t, and stuff like this can be a result.

Wade Hayslip, Dennise’s son, points out the obvious: She wouldn’t have been in the hospital if no one shot her. He also says there were powder burns on her cheek, suggesting a closer range that Charles originally suggested.

Also, the door frame at the scene of the crime was smashed, suggesting a possibly angry entrance. Wade says it’s like a 5-year-old claiming he didn’t do it, even though you just saw him do it.

Similarly, Missy Cook, a bartender at Bimbo’s (which Dennise used to frequent), notes that Dennise once came in with a black eye. While it’s not said how chronic his abuse was, it was apparently something people noticed.

Jim Kelly, Darren’s former boss says Dennise dumped “Chuck” for “being a creep,” and suggests that Chuck was also jealous of Darren. He says (and I may be paraphrasing) Darren was an achiever, Chuck was a loser. In fact, he says Charles was a bad sport.

He notes how, not long before the shooting, Darren and Chuck fought, but supposedly reached an understanding. To paraphrase Mr. Kelly: What type of person can shake someone’s hand, then come back later and shoot them?

The Hypothetical Hitman

After the shootings, Charles Thompson went to someone’s house. That someone was Diane Zernia. One of the Jurors during the trial, Harrell Rodgers, says that Diane was frightened on the stand, with “eyes as big as silver dollars.”

Why might that be? While on remand, an undercover officer entrapped Thompson into arranging for a hit on Diane Zernia. In the audio recording, Thompson even says the original one screwed him over — obviously suggesting he attempted to have her assassinated previously.

Thompson’s original Lawyer dismisses the recording. However, he also dismisses Thompson’s gun as being responsible for Dennise’s death. Crucially, the recording was a turning point for the Jury in the guilt determination (though, during the retrial for punishment, the tape was ruled illegal).

With or without the tape, Chuck was sentenced to death again. As the retrial Jury Foreman explained, Dennise’s death in the hospital is irrelevant. He’s the one who shot her in the face.

Chuck Thompson’s Escape

Wade Hayslip also talks about Charles Thompson’s prison escape, where he tricked his way out of a holding cell by using a fake ID and his court clothes. He claimed to be with the Attorney General’s office.

Wade twists this around beautifully, though, simply by telling the truth. While it could be regarded as an intelligent, daring escape, Thompson got caught 3 days later, drunk outside a liquor store in Louisiana.

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While some say the escape proves how dangerous Thompson is, Charles says it doesn’t because he didn’t hurt anyone for the 4 days he escaped.

It’s proof he’s not a future threat, right?  Well, not everyone agrees, and there’s enough to make Thompson look guilty. When the “hitman” tape is played back to Thompson, he responds, “It’s embarrassing. What can I say?”

That’s it for this I am a Killer recap! What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!