Buggs’ sister thought him a threat to Talley

by Andrew Tellijohn

Prosecutors called a witness Friday with whom Louis “Butch” Buggs is very familiar — his sister.
Lena Buggs testified that her brother called her on the day of the murder and said he was leaving home to get his life in order. During the five-minute conversation, she said he acted out of character and even told her he loved her three times.
“He said that he was leaving town and that I should take care of the house and feed the dog,” she said. “He didn’t know (where he was going) but when things cooled down, he’d let me know.”
She said because he was acting in an unusual manner and taking into account his prior threats of violence against his former girlfriend Kami Talley, Lena said she called Talley at work to warn her she was in danger.
When asked why she called, she said, “Because I was afraid for her.”
Her brother’s attorneys, who are defending him against charges of killing Talley, questioned Lena Buggs about why she never told anyone about the phone call to Talley until less than a week before the trial. However, her testimony was interrupted several times by objections and bench conferences and was eventually cut short before being postponed until later in the trial.
Such conferences were constant throughout the day. More than 10 times before noon, attorneys raised objections, and Judge H. Peter Albrecht required both sides to approach the bench before he ruled on many instances.
During one lengthy bench session, one juror wearily rubbed his eyes, three sat with their heads resting in their hands and another fought back a yawn. Albrecht apologized for the delays before lunch but said in a later interview he is confident the jury is still interested and attentive.
“I think we’ve got a good jury,” he said. “I think they fully understand that some things have to be discussed outside their presence.”
At issue during many of the mini-conferences was evidence introduced by the prosecution regarding prior instances of abuse involving Buggs, 24, and Talley. One incident, an August 1995 assault for which Buggs pleaded guilty, was serious enough that Talley received treatment at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.
Dr. Lee Arostegui treated Talley after the assault. Arostegui said the bruises and marks left by the beating were so bad that he thought they were delivered by a blunt object, which Talley refuted.
“She was hit with a fist multiple times and she’d been thrown around the room,” Arostegui said. “The swelling was quite impressive.”
One of Talley’s eyes was swollen completely shut and when she went back to the hospital five days later for a checkup, her persistent headaches lead Arostegui to believe she might have had a skull fracture.
As a result of the incident, Buggs was sentenced to 120 days in the Hennepin County Workhouse and two years of probation.
Six months later, on Valentine’s Day 1996, Buggs allegedly killed Talley at her workplace in northeast Minneapolis shortly after she broke off their relationship. Talley died from massive blood loss caused by several gunshot wounds to the abdomen. If convicted of the murder, Buggs faces life in prison.
Also testifying Friday was Rachel Contrares, the woman whose Texas apartment Buggs and two other men stopped at the day after Talley was murdered.
She said Buggs had a gun with him. The gun was always tucked in the waistband of his shorts or sitting next to him while he tried to convince Contrares, who is on probation for an offense in Texas, to let him use her car to go to Mexico instead of his car. Contrares said Buggs thought the Texas license plates on her car would be less conspicuous.
When first confronted by FBI officials Feb. 16, she refused to make a statement, but changed her mind two days later. Contrares could face charges of harboring a fugitive.
Contrares said Buggs showed no sign of remorse and asked her to drive him over the border.
“I’ll buy you a drink across the border and you’ll never see me again,” Buggs allegedly said.