A member of Lawrence Stinnett’s defense team in his murder and kidnapping trial faced questioning Wednesday from his own client.
Stinnett, who could face the death penalty if he is convicted on both charges, placed Jonathan Hieneman on the witness stand Wednesday.
Hieneman, a Campbellsville attorney contracted through the Department of Public Advocacy to represent Stinnett, and public defender Vince Yustas have been acting as co-counsel with Stinnett, who has taken on the lead responsibilities in his trial.
Stinnett, 50, is charged in the beating death of his girlfriend, 29-year-old Christina Renshaw, at the 1712A Highland Way apartment the couple shared.
During the four years the case has been in the court system, Stinnett has claimed that certain evidence was either withheld from him, tampered with, lost or otherwise not shown to him in a timely manner.
Stinnett argued before Warren Circuit Judge John Grise during a break in the case, after jurors had been excused, for placing Hieneman on the stand.
Stinnett said he wanted jurors to know that the Bowling Green Police Department provided his attorneys with copies of the list of items from the crime scene that police logged as evidence.
A copy of the evidence logs provided to Stinnett was missing 10 items, Stinnett said, and he was unaware of those items’ existence until 2008, when he and his attorneys first visited BGPD’s evidence room.
Grise accommodated Stinnett’s request, noting that by questioning his own attorney, he was waiving his attorney-client privilege.
Yustas had argued Wednesday that the missing items from Stinnett’s copy were inadvertently omitted.
Hieneman testified that a copy of a document written by Yustas said the missing evidence logs should be sent to the defendant, saying the note was dated March 26, 2007.
Hieneman also testified under direct examination by Stinnett that a cell phone recovered from Renshaw’s apartment was one of the omitted items from the evidence logs and that requests made by Stinnett for independent toxicology tests to be conducted were refused because there were no samples remaining to be tested.
Under brief cross-examination by Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron, Hieneman said that all available evidence was provided to Stinnett’s defense team and that Stinnett and his attorneys visited the BGPD evidence room in 2008, viewing hundreds of pieces of evidence.
Lead investigator retakes stand
BGPD Detective Brett Kreilein testified for the fifth time at the trial Wednesday, called as a defense witness by Stinnett for the second time.
Stinnett’s questioning of Kreilein centered on items collected by police from the crime scene and sent for testing of bodily fluids at the Kentucky State Police Crime Lab in Madisonville.
Kreilein testified that two liquor bottles containing tequila and two shot glasses were collected by police at the scene in 2006, and that those and other items were tested for fingerprints, but tests were unsuccessful.
The tequila bottles were sent to Madisonville for serology - or bodily fluid - testing by state police.
Stinnett asked whether saliva samples were recovered.
“I’m telling you that they tested the bottles and the only thing they found was blood,” Kreilein said.
Stinnett also had Kreilein show jurors the four cell phones that were recovered from the scene, along with a billfold, a picture of Stinnett, a set of keys belonging to Renshaw and two checkbooks containing blank checks for Stinnett and Renshaw’s joint checking account.
Two of the phones were inactive and police could not determine who those phones belonged to. Another phone belonged to Renshaw and the last phone belonged to Stinnett, Kreilein testified.
Stinnett asked whether Renshaw’s phone contained any retrievable text messages or voice mails, and Kreilein responded that that information would not come from the phone itself, but the cell phone provider.
Jurors also viewed several pictures of the crime scene taken while the scene was still secured but well after police initially responded.
Under questioning from Stinnett, Kreilein noted cuts that were made in several places to a sectional sofa in the living room and to a love seat in an upstairs bedroom.
Other pictures shown included knives recovered from the scene, a belt buckle found on the kitchen floor, a gold necklace, a base and headset for a telephone, contents of the refrigerator and freezer, damaged window blinds in the master bedroom, the interior of the back seat of Renshaw’s car and items recovered from the vehicle, including beer cans.
Answering questions from Cohron, Kreilein said that Renshaw’s apartment did not have any phone service, and the land line was disconnected Feb. 2, 2006, the day before her death.
Kreilein also testified that Stinnett’s initial attorneys were allowed to walk through the scene and could have any item inside taken for evidence collection if requested.
Additional questioning from Stinnett had Kreilein testifying about a copy of a computer-aided dispatch report indicating that a city police officer was placed on standby regarding a call at Renshaw’s apartment on Aug. 30, 2005, and that a child was removed from the home that day.
Stinnett’s father, other witnesses testify
During the afternoon, Stinnett briefly questioned his father, Robert L. Stinnett, a retired Army colonel and management consultant.
The elder Stinnett said he talked on the phone to Renshaw on the morning of Feb. 3, 2006.
“She was expecting you to return to Bowling Green,” Robert Stinnett said. “She had bought a big-screen TV and she said you had got into a discussion with her about her seeing other people.”
While being questioned by his son, Robert Stinnett said that Lawrence had spent some time in an Oklahoma mental health facility in 2002 or 2003, saying that Lawrence had requested the treatment and Robert Stinnett provided transportation to the facility.
Lawrence asked his father about a relationship the younger Stinnett had with another woman, Jackie Thompson.
“Did the defendant try to convince you that there were men hiding in Jackie’s attic?” Stinnett asked, to which his father responded “yes.”
Robert Stinnett also said he was told by Lawrence that the younger Stinnett stabbed mattresses and sofas while looking for men he claimed were hiding.
During cross-examination by Cohron, Robert Stinnett said that Lawrence Stinnett and Renshaw visited him in 2005 and that everything seemed fine at the time and that during February 2006, his son and Renshaw were still involved in a normal relationship as far as he knew.
Ronnie Klokoc, a former mechanic for Yellow Cab, where he worked with Renshaw, and former Yellow Cab owner Joe Boyd also testified Wednesday.
Klokoc said he maintained Renshaw’s car and the vehicles of other Yellow Cab drivers, and also provided maintenance at a discount for Renshaw’s personal vehicle.
Klokoc testified that Stinnett would often come by the business to take Renshaw to and from work and that Klokoc would still service cars even after he stopped working for Yellow Cab.
He also testified that he did not remember seeing Stinnett come to the business with a drink or smelling like alcohol, though he recalled seeing beer in the car when Stinnett arrived sometimes.
“I didn’t find out about (Renshaw’s death) until the very next day and I was really kind of surprised about that,” Klokoc said. “It really upset me; she was a nice girl.”
Boyd said that he was familiar with Renshaw’s work habits from when she was his employee, saying that she would take time off the air - out of reach of Yellow Cab dispatchers - but it was normally for a lunch break.
Boyd said that Renshaw would usually go off the air for 30 minutes to an hour, and that standard policy is for drivers to inform dispatchers if they intend to go off the air during their shift.
Boyd testified that he was familiar with employees from Shogun of Japan Steakhouse who would request to be transported specifically by Renshaw.
Neither witness was questioned by Cohron. The trial resumes Friday.