What's next

Hearings for Kiser's post-conviction petition will resume in April.

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Marlon Duane Kiser appears before Judge Don Poole in August 2014 as he appeals a death penalty sentence from 2003 in the murder of a Hamilton County deputy sheriff.

Convicted murderer Marlon Kiser took the stand for the first time Tuesday.

Kiser didn't testify during his 2003 trial in the killing of Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Donald Bond. Kiser didn't testify when he appealed a jury's ruling. For more than 14 years, he's been silent.

At a hearing Tuesday, Kiser said he never testified at his original trial because he didn't think his public defenders prepared him for the witness stand.

"I was green, and I was not prepared," Kiser said.

He maintained both innocence and ignorance throughout his testimony. He said he put his life in the hands of his defense attorneys during a legal process that he did not understand.

In his post-conviction petition, he argues they provided him with inadequate counsel by, among other things, failing to fully investigate evidence and tell him about alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Many of those allegations were detailed during the first part of the hearing Monday.

"They were basically playing with a quarter deck," Kiser said. "I wouldn't call that a defense."

But Kiser also said he didn't know much about what any of his lawyers -- even his current lawyers -- were doing. After more than a decade in the legal system, he said he's still lost.

Kiser claims he was framed by his former roommate, Mike Chattin. At a hearing last month, a woman said she lied on the stand during his trial. Chattin had confessed to her, she said, but then had threatened her, prompting her to give false testimony that implicated Kiser.

Kiser said he was sleeping when the killing took place. He walked outside to look for Chattin and found officers, who arrested him, he said. He's been incarcerated ever since.

But on cross-examination, District Attorney General Neal Pinkston asked Kiser questions that caused him to fumble his words. Why prepare for a testimony if that testimony were true? Pinkston asked.

He didn't want to expose himself or "open up doors," Kiser said. He also revealed that he believes prosecutors and police officers were involved in a conspiracy that ultimately put him behind bars, including helping a witness leave the state so he would be more difficult to compel to testify.

During Tuesday's hearing, several crime scene investigators from the original case also spoke about the preservation of evidence. A key piece of Kiser's petition hinges on claims his attorneys didn't conduct a proper forensic investigation or question the state's forensic results.

One former detective was so upset when asked to describe whether footprints were found on Bond's body that he choked up.

"I know that Deputy Bond was covered in his own blood," Robert Starnes said.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.