Court ruling allows Lloyd Hammond to be tried again - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Court ruling allows Lloyd Hammond to be tried again

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky appeals court ruling will allow the statements from a murdered witness to be played against Lloyd Hammond, reversing a 2013 ruling that dismissed two of his murder cases.

The Jefferson Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, which is right now prosecuting Hammond's brother Dejuan for the murder of the witness, Troya Sheckles, announced in a press release that it will be allowed to use her statements to police in the trial.

Hammond's defense has 30 days to ask the court to look at the issue again or appeal to the state Supreme Court.

In June 2013, Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Audra Eckerle dismissed charges against Lloyd Hammond for the 2006 murder of Sheckles' boyfriend, William Sawyers, and Terrell Cherry. Prosecutors had requested the dismissal after Eckerle refused to allow Sheckles' statements to police to be used at trial.

The Appeals Court ruling overturns Eckerle's decision and sends the case back to circuit court.

In 2010, Sheckles' statements to police were played during Hammond's first trial and he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. But the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned that conviction in 2012, finding that Eckerle had allowed the use of Sheckles' statement without having a proper hearing authenticating the information.

At the time, attorney Mike Lemke, who was representing Hammond, had argued that allowing the statement was not proper because he was unable to cross-examine Sheckles. And Lemke said that Sheckles had not been able to initially identify Hammond through a police photo lineup, only recognizing him later when she saw him on television.

Reached on Thursday, Lemke said David Niehaus, another attorney in the Louisville Public Defender's office, now represents Hammond. Niehaus did not immediately return a message left at his office.

Prosecutors have argued that Hammond and his family orchestrated Sheckles' murder to prevent her from testifying.

Lloyd Hammond was released from prison in February after pleading guilty to manslaughter in shooting death of third man in 2006, Kerry Williams.

Hammond was ordered to serve 10 years from Williams death, but had already served enough time to be released.

The three-judge court of appeals ruled on Nov. 26 that Eckerle had properly held the hearing needed for prosecutors to use Sheckles' statement.

“The trial court had such a hearing and found that the evidence supported the decision that the statements could be admitted; however, it misinterpreted the Kentucky Supreme Court's directive and found that a document being read into the record was not sufficient to satisfy the court's requirement of a hearing,” according to the ruling. “We disagree with the trial court's decision on this issue.”

Sheckles was killed March 23, 2009, while she was sitting with a friend in Shelby Park, weeks after she reluctantly agreed to testify against Lloyd Hammond.

Steven Pettway was convicted last year of shooting Sheckles and is serving a 55-year-sentence. That conviction is being appealed.

A jury is currently deliberating whether to find Dejuan Hammond guilty of murder.

Related:

Closing arguments complete in Hammond murder trial; jurors deliberating

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