The attorneys for convicted cop killer Marlon Duane Kiser are pointing fingers at the other guy.
Testimony began Monday in Kiser's appeal to his 2003 death penalty conviction for the shooting of Hamilton County Deputy Donald Bond. His appeal, being heard in Criminal Court Judge Don Poole's courtroom, claims his conviction should be overturned because of ineffective attorneys.
In September 2001, police say, Kiser shot Bond with an assault rifle after the deputy had stopped him from setting fire to an East Brainerd fruit stand. Kiser's roommate, James Michael Chattin, testified that Kiser woke him up that morning and bragged about killing a cop. Chattin said Kiser showed him an assault rifle, a police weapon and a part of a bulletproof vest.
But Kiser's attorneys on Monday started putting the blame on Chattin, who has since died. At his original trial, Kiser had claimed that he was set up by his roommate, whom he claimed killed Bond because he believed the deputy was seeing his estranged wife.
On Monday, Mack Heard testified that Chattin as much as admitted to the murder.
"He said he would gut me like he did the cop if I was there to set him up," Heard said.
The witness said he worked under cover with law enforcement to bust drug dealers and Chattin was one of his targets. Of all the cases he's helped prosecute, Chattin was the only one to get away, he said.
"Were you afraid of Mike Chattin?" asked Kiser's attorney, Paul Bruno.
"Absolutely," he said.
Heard, who testified he had no connection to Kiser, said he believed "without a shadow of a doubt" that Chattin was the killer. He said he tried to notify both the district attorney's office and the public defender assigned to Kiser's case. But both "blew him off," he said.
"Nobody was interested in my side of the story," Heard said. "They said it was my opinion. And it was my opinion because I had just talked to the killer."
Lawyers also called to the stand the owner of the fruit stand where Bond died, followed by a gas station clerk who worked for Chattin's girlfriend.
Pamela Treadway, a former neighbor of Kiser and Chattin, took the stand last.
She said Chattin had brought a 9mm gun into her home. He told her about how his wife was seeing a cop, how he was having friends follow her.
"He said he was going to shoot the cop," she testified. "That's what he said."
Treadway said Kiser was at home asleep on his couch during the time of Bond's shooting, though prosecutor Neal Pinkston noted that a crime scene video showed no couch in the home.
She said Chattin had threatened to burn her house down. And a few days later, the back of her house caught fire.
"He told me if I talked to the cops that he would burn me up in my house," she said.
Pinkston noted that Treadway had previously told the police a different version of that night's events. But she said she only changed her story for fear of Chattin.
"You lied to the police?" Pinkston asked.
"Yes I did," she said.
Kiser previously requested a new trail, but a higher court denied that appeal in 2005. In May 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld his sentence. Kiser was scheduled for execution in May 2010 but was granted a stay, pending the resolution of his post-conviction appeals.
Lawyers sought more time to prepare their appeal, so his hearing will continue on Oct. 20. Until then, Kiser will head back to death row at Riverbend prison in Nashville.
Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at email@example.com or 423-757-6249.