published Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Defendant alleges evidence not shared before original trial

Edward T. Kendrick III alleged Monday that prosecutors in his 1994 murder trial did not share crucial evidence and testimony with his attorney.

During the hearing in Hamilton County Criminal Court, Kendrick detailed new statements made by an eyewitness weeks before the original trial began and testimony from a police officer not heard by the jury. He also said his attorney at the time failed to interview an eyewitness with a conflicting account of his wife’s death.

He argued that these instances, among others, amount to inadequate legal counsel and should give him a chance at a new trial.

In 1994, jurors found Kendrick guilty of premeditated first-degree murder for killing his wife outside the BP store on Lee Highway. He was sentenced to life and has lost two appeals in the case.

On Monday, Kendrick directed all his questions at his former attorney, Hank Hill, who represented him in the original trial. Hill was on the witness stand.

Hill agreed with some of the points Kendrick made in Judge Don Poole’s courtroom, but questioned others.

“I think this case is a close case,” Hill testified. “Our story was it was a clear-cut accident and the jury could always have found that it was reckless or criminally negligent.”

Kendrick is representing himself with assistance from defense attorney Jeffrey Schaarschmidt. Monday’s hearing was the sixth in the case since Feb. 7, when the latest phase of the 17-year-old case began.

Records show that on March 6, 1994, Kendrick arrived at the BP store with his 3-year-old son, Edward, and 4-year-old daughter, Endia. He entered the store and told his wife to come outside.

Witnesses inside the store heard an explosion. One witness, Lennell Shepheard, stepped outside and said he saw Kendrick standing over his wife’s body with a rifle in his hand, saying, “I told you so.”

But Shepheard didn’t tell police or lawyers that until just two weeks before the 1994 trial. And Hill first heard that account when Shepheard took the witness stand.

Another witness said he also was at the scene of the shooting, but that Kendrick left immediately and said nothing, according to documents.

Since his arrest, Kendrick has maintained that the Remington 7400 .30-06 “just went off” as he moved it, striking his wife.

Hours after the incident, Chattanooga police officer Steve Miller shot himself in the foot with the same rifle while taking it from his car to the police station.

Miller said in a statement that his hands were not near the trigger and the weapon accidentally discharged. But portions of Miller’s statements were not made available to the jury in the original trial.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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