Death row inmate wants evidence review

Death row inmate wants evidence review

November 2nd, 2010 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

An attorney for Marlon Duane Kiser, a Chattanooga man who was scheduled to be put to death in May for the 2001 murder of a Hamilton County sheriff's deputy, has asked a judge for permission to review evidence in the nearly decade-old case.

Kiser's attorney, Rick Haberman, said a fresh look at all the physical evidence could show Kiser didn't shoot and kill Donald Bond.

Marlon Duane Kiser was sentenced to death in November 2003 for the 2001 first-degree murder of Deputy Sheriff Donald Bond, who was shot several times with a high-powered assault rifle when he interrupted Mr. Kiser's arson attempt at a Chattanooga fruit stand.

"We believe there are real questions to his innocence in this case," said Haberman, who according to court documents is based out of Detroit.

Timeline:

* September 2001: Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Donald Bond is found shot to death in the parking lot of a fruit stand on East Brainerd Road. Suspect Marlon Duane Kiser is arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

* November 2003: Kiser is convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

* July 2004: Kiser files an appeal for a new trial because he says he received ineffective counsel.

* October 2004: The Public Defender's Office is removed from handling Kiser's appeal.

* August 2005: A judge denies a new trial for Kiser.

* May 2009: The Tennessee Supreme Court upholds Kiser's death sentence and execution is set for May 2010.

* May 2010: Kiser's execution date is delayed after his lawyers file a petition.

* October 2010: A judge rules that Kiser's lawyers can review all physical evidence in the case.

Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press archives

Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole ruled Monday that Kiser's attorneys could review evidence being kept by the Criminal Court Clerk's Office. Neither Kiser nor his attorneys were in court for the ruling.

According to the motion, officials in the clerk's office said Kiser's attorney needed a judge's order before they allowed him to inspect records.

"The petitioner respectfully requests that the court order the Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk to make available ... for inspection all items of physical evidence which the clerk has in its possession related to the investigation, trial and conviction," the motion states.

District Attorney Bill Cox, who tried Kiser's case in 2003, said he still believes the jury made the right decision.

"There was a lot of forensic evidence," he said. "The evidence was heard by a jury and reviewed by the Tennessee Supreme Court and was overwhelming."

In May 2009, the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld Kiser's death sentence.

"Kiser's death penalty was put off by his post-conviction petition," Haberman said.

Haberman said he didn't want to "reveal his strategy" but plans to interview witnesses. A hearing is scheduled for April 2011, he said.

According to police and prosecutors, Kiser ambushed Bond in the early morning of Sept. 6, 2001, and riddled him with bullets from a high-powered assault rifle when the deputy interrupted Kiser's attempt to set fire to a fruit stand on East Brainerd Road.

Kiser's roommate at the time, James Michael Chattin, testified that Kiser awakened him that morning and bragged that he had killed a police officer.

He said Kiser showed him an assault rifle, a police weapon and part of a bullet-proof vest. Bond was found dead in the parking lot of the fruit stand with part of his vest and weapon missing.

A forensic analysis by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showed that bullet fragments removed from Bond's body during an autopsy and shell casings taken from the crime scene were fired from an assault rifle owned by Kiser.

Since being convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2003, Kiser has tried to argue that the public defenders office provided ineffective counsel and that he wasn't competent to make decisions during the trial.

During the penalty phase of his trial, Kiser refused to allow his attorneys to present mitigating evidence, such as information about his mental health background, that could have helped him avoid the death penalty.

"It is my belief that there is nothing that can be said on my behalf or by anyone that knows me to change anybody's mind," he said, according to Chattanooga Times Free Press archives.

Contact staff writer Joan Garrett at jgarrett@times freepress.com or 423-757-6601.