Key witnesses in Hammond trial accuse prosecutor, police of bullying
By Jason Riley and Dalton Main
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Two key witnesses in the trial of a man accused in the murder of Troya Scheckles told a jury Tuesday that police and prosecutors bullied them into implicating Dejuan Hammond.
In day four of Hammond's murder trial, his former girlfriend Princess Bolin took the witness stand and said the lead detective in the case told her if she didn't cooperate, her life “would be a living hell.”
Ike Kinnison, a friend of Hammond's, said the detective, Roy Stalvey, once told him he would be "killed" if he didn't testify against Hammond.
Both Bolin and Kinnison have in the past told police that Hammond and his former co-defendant, Steven Pettway, were involved in the 2009 shooting of Sheckles in Shelby Park, so she couldn't testify against Hammond's brother in his murder trial.
But in this trial, Bolin gave Hammond an alibi and repeatedly said she couldn't recall her previous statements to police. She told prosecutors Hammond was with her at the mall shopping for shoes on the day Sheckles was murdered.
Ted Shouse, an attorney for Hammond, pointed out that prosecutors did not turn that interview over to the defense for years and never checked whether any stores at the mall had video that might prove Bolin and Hammond were there.
Prosecutors have said Hammond sent Pettway to kill Sheckles because she had agreed to testify against Lloyd Hammond, Dejuan's brother. Lloyd Hammond was facing murder charges in the June 2006 deaths of Terrell Cherry and William Sawyers, Sheckles' boyfriend.
Kinnison had previously told police that Hammond admitted he killed Sheckles so she wouldn't testify against Lloyd, saying he talked with both Pettway and Hammond in the minutes after the murder.
But on Tuesday, Kinnison said he lied because he was "scared" and under pressure from Stalvey.
"I said whatever he wanted me to tell him," Kinnison testified. When questioned about specifics on what he told police, Kinnison repeatedly testified that he didn't remember.
After his testimony was finished for the day, prosecutors asked Judge Angela McCormick Bisig if they could impeach Kinnison by playing his previous statements to police and testimony in Pettway's trial. While the defense objected, saying Kinnison had not refused to testify, Bisig ruled the prosecution can play the statements.
Bolin testified on Tuesday that she had been coerced into implicating Hammond by prosecutors and detectives. Bolin also claimed the Hammond family was not concerned about Sheckles testifying against Lloyd Hammond because she had given police conflicting statements and had been unable to identify Lloyd initially.
When questioned by Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown, Bolin again responded to many questions with, “I don't recall.”
Previously, Bolin had reluctantly admitted that Hammond sent her into Shelby Park to look for a woman and report back to him shortly before Sheckles was killed. She has said she also overheard Hammond talking about the murder and sent her into the park after the shooting to see who was killed.
When Shouse questioned Bolin in court on Tuesday, he noted that she now seems to remember a lot after telling prosecutors repeatedly that she couldn't “recall” much.
“I'm just trying to tell the truth,” Bolin testified. She went on to say that police threatened her if she wouldn't cooperate. She said former prosecutor Tom Van De Rostyne told her he would send her to prison for 20 years if she didn't cooperate.
Bolin said the conversation with Van De Rostyne occurred before the video recorder was turned on for her June 30, 2011, interview with the lead detective. Before her final interview with police on July 15, 2011, Bolin said she was told to cooperate or she would "never see the light of day."
In 2009, Bolin initially told investigators she and Hammond were at the mall at time of shooting; she was also sent to prison on drug charges. Upon her release, she says an officer told her “if you want this to end, give” the prosecutor what he wants.
Det. Jon Lesher testified that Bolin had numerous "inconsistencies" during that interview, at first saying she was at mall alone.
"It was like pulling teeth," he said of getting information out of Bolin.
Shouse has said witnesses, including Bolin, were bullied and coerced by police into telling them what they wanted to hear about Hammond.
He played a July 29, 2010, video of a court hearing in which Brendan McCleod, who was Bolin's attorney at the time, told a judge Van De Rostyne was treating Bolin differently because she wouldn't cooperate in the Hammond case. McCleod said Van De Rostyne felt he had "blood on his hands" because of the death of Sheckles and was trying to get Bolin to give him information "she doesn't have."
In her July 2011 interview, Bolin said Det. Stalvey fed her answers on what to say. She testified she told them she didn't want to cooperate with their "lies"
Bolin was a key witness for the prosecution in the murder conviction of Hammond's co-defendant, Steven Pettway, in 2013.
In April, five days into Hammond's second trial, prosecutors turned over to the defense a summary of a 2009 interview with Bolin, in which she provided the mall alibi. She said Hammond was with her as she was shopping for shoes. The information, never before seen by the defense, caused a mistrial.
Bolin and her attorney have since accused prosecutors of improperly prosecuting her to force testimony against Hammond.
Also on Tuesday, Bolin's brother, Prince, took the stand. In an interview with police, Prince Bolin had said Hammond told him that if Sheckles was going to be "stupid" enough to be out in the open, he was going to "take her" out.
But like most of the other witnesses for the prosecution, Prince Bolin did not remember this, saying he only "vaguely" knew Hammond.
"I don't know anything," he said.
The trial will continue on Monday.
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