Thursday, October 22, 2015

Priester was going to release suspect in Kendrick murder. Prosecution: What is a felony-murder rule?

Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. reduced the bond for Lauren Shell Blackwell to $500 for the charge of Capital Murder in the death of 81 year-old Lee Kendrick at a preliminary hearing last Monday.  The Pearl resident was shot to death in an a vacant apartment at Cedarstone Apartments in Northeast Jackson on August 31.  Blackwell was denied bond when first charged with murder and auto theft.  Judge Priester also granted bond of $500 for the auto theft charge.  He sought to release her on her own recognizance but awarded a bond upon a request from defense attorneys.  JJ obtained a copy of the hearing transcript.  The transcript gives a clearer picture of what did... and didn't take place in the courtroom that day.

Kendrick. Source:
Detective Ella Thomas provided the majority of the testimony at the hearing.  She said the body was discovered when a boy went to retrieve his football that went through the window of the unit.  The lad went for help and the police were called.   Police were searching for suspects when they received a tip on September 3 Blackwell and two black males were seen at a Jubilee store at a time after the murder on August 31. The caller knew Kendrick and said "it was strange for them to be in his vehicle being that he never let anyone use his vehicle."

The tipster knew Kendrick and Blackwell as she rented a room to her for two weeks but Kendrick paid for the room. The landlord terminated the rental when other men came to the room.  She told "Babe" Blackwell that she wouldn't tolerate that type of behavior and refunded the money to her. Kendrick also bought a vehicle for Blackwell but she got mad about the purchase.  She apparently wanted $2,500 instead of the wheels so she later sold the vehicle.

Blackwell turned herself into police after her picture was distributed to the media.  Detective Thomas said:

He picked her up and took her to a hotel room at the Crown Motel, got her a room.  He left her there to go to Clinton to pick up $1,600 from a client for a fence that he was supposed to be building.  He came back and picked her up from the room.

When he picked her up, he told her he had to go home and feed his wife because he normally fed his wife around 11:00 (His wife suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia.).  So he took her to Shorty's Food Mart and got her some chicken, and then took her over to Eastview and dropped her off.

Mr. Kendrick came back.  When he came back to Eastview and picked her up, he picked her and Walter Young up, and they were supposed to go to Woodside.  At first Loren stated that she and Walter Young dropped him off at Woodside....

Loren then stated they went to an apartment...

She said they went to the apartment and the female was supposed to meet them over there.  And once they got inside the apartment, the female never showed.....

Blackwell said Kendrick was in the bedroom while she stayed in the front room of the apartment.  She claimed she didn't hear a gunshot but she saw Walter leave the room "in a hurry to go".  She claimed he "tried to give her the gun and she refused to touch it and they left."  She said Young placed the gun into a white plastic bag and she "tossed the bag wtih the gun out by a mattress" on Greenwood Avenue.

Remember Blackwell stating she never had sex with Kendrick that day and stayed in the front room? Detective Thomas stated that they had sex in that room was found, complete with Blackwell's DNA.   Blackwell also said that Young was the cousin of her boyfriend, Shadarrine Lindsey.

Detective Thomas said Blackwell "said they didn't take the money ($1,600).  She said Young toook Kendrick's pants and threw them into a dumpster by hwy 80.  The couple then picked up Lindsey and went to the Jubilee store to buy weed.

She drove to Franklin County in Kendrick's car and was stopped for a speeding ticket in that county.  She hid the car in Franklin County as well.  Detective Thomas stated "she ended up with the vehicle."  She also said that Trustmark bank video showed Kendrick withdrew $120.  She said "So we know for sure that he had $1,720 on him."

The police recovered none of  Kendrick's $1,720:

Q: Did you find any of this at or near his body? 
A: No.
Q: Did you find any of it at all?
A: No.
Q:Were you able to recover the gun? 
A: No. We went back.  We took Ms. Blackwell. She went to show us exactly where she threw the gun out.  We went and looked and canvassed the area and we were not able to find a gun.  She said if the gun was missing, Walter had to be the one to come back and remove the gun from that area.

She also said that Young at first knew about Kendrick's murder then denied knowledge of the crime (p12).  He said he wasn't with Blackwell when she got the ticket and that Lindsey and Blackwell were "trying to frame him for murder."

The police also did not have the medical examiner's report at the time of the hearing.  Detective
Walter Young
Thomas said upon cross-examination that JPD had no evidence of "which one pulled the trigger" but that Blackwell said "it was Walter Young who pulled the trigger." 

Public Defender Lynn Watkins represented Blackwell.  She moved to dismiss the murder charge against Blackwell. She argued there was "no evidence that she pulled the trigger at any time to kill Lee Kendrick."  She also requested house arrest for Blackwell if the charges were not dismissed.  She said Blackwell is 28 weeks pregnant and the baby is "in a breach position".  She claimed her client was also developing "gestational diabetes" and that Hinds County taxpayers will have to foot the bill for her care and delivery if she is in jail.  She said she can stay with her boyfriend's mother. 

Prosecutor Walter Bleck told Judge Priester that the only person police can prove was in the room is Blackwell.  He said he was shot in the head.  Her "DNA is there." He also said she was the one who was placing other people in the room and "she got away with the car."

Judge Priester said what mattered was the police stated "At this time we do not have any evidence that she pulled the trigger."  Judge Priester then said "I see no evidence that she was the murderer".

Judge Priester said he was going to release Blackwell on her own recognizance but Watkins objectetd.  She asked for a bond so that the police could not just simply arrest her if she was indicted.  The prosecution would have to file a motion to revoke or reconsider her bond if she was indicted.  Thus Judge Priester made it harder for the police to take Blackwell into custody if she is indeed indicted for capital murder.

Blackwell will be on house arrest once she posts bond.

Kingfish note: That was the news, now for the opinion. It appears that both Judge Melvin Priester, Sr. and prosecutor Walter Bleck never heard of the felony-murder rule nor can Judge Priester distinguish between a trial and a preliminary hearing.  Mississippi Code Section 97-3-19 (e) states:

 (2) The killing of a human being without the authority of law by any means or in any manner shall be capital murder in the following cases...

 e) When done with or without any design to effect death, by any person engaged in the commission of the crime of rape, burglary, kidnapping, arson, robbery, sexual battery, unnatural intercourse with any child under the age of twelve (12), or nonconsensual unnatural intercourse with mankind, or in any attempt to commit such felonies;
The evidence presented shows that Kendrick had $1,720 when he picked up Blackwell.  Blackwell knew he had the money and it is a safe bet Walter Young knew that little fact as well.  Priester and Bleck passed the bar exam so they should have knowledge of the felony-murder rule.  Mr. Bleck did not once try to use the felony-murder rule to oppose reducing the bond or releasing Blackwell.  One would expect the prosecutor to use all legal arguments necessary to keep a Judge from releasing an accused murderer back into society.

The felony-murder rule states that Blackwell is guilty of murder if she helped Young rob Kendrick and Kendrick was killed during the commission of the robbery.  Kendrick had the money when he met the pair and it was never recovered.  It is more than reasonable to suspect that Walter Young robbed Kendrick.  It is also reasonable to suspect that Blackwell told Young about Kendrick's money and worked with him to lure Kendrick to the apartment where they could rob him.

The police are still investigating the case.  The case has yet to go to a grand jury yet Judge Priester decided to try the case right there at the preliminary hearing. Judge Priester expected the police to disclose all of their evidence to the defense before the case was presented to the grand jury.  Judge Priester focused solely on whether Blackwell pulled the trigger and ignored any applications of the felony-murder rule.  He didn't ask any questions about a robbery or what happened to Kendrick's money.  It was all about Blackwell pulling the trigger.  Judge Priester knows about felony-murder rule so his refusal to discuss it can't be classified as sheer ignorance or inexperience.  His statements and rulings were a determined attempt to try the case before it went to a grand jury and put her back on the street.

One also only speculate as to why the Bleck did not raise the issue of the felony-murder rule. There is also a question of did she help him as an accessory after the fact or if she obstructed justice by throwing away the murder weapon.  However, no such arguments were raised.  Such is the performance we have come to expect from the office of the Hinds County District Attorney.



Anonymous said...

not involved in the Justice or Lawyer system, but the bail bonds set, from virtually none to punitive and excessive amounts in Mississippi seems ignored. we are not all treated the same.

Anonymous said...

"Blackwell turned herself into police"

Good trick.

Anonymous said...

I don't practice criminal law, but from what I remember in school, felony murder would not be the tool to attach her actions to the murder. Rather, that would be an accessory charge. Felony murder enhances what would otherwise be a lesser offense, such as manslaughter, to capital murder where someone was inadvertently killed, or killed without malice aforethought, by the defendant during the commission of one of the other crimes set forth in the statute. Here, there is no evidence that the victim died by the defendant's hand. However, she could be charged with accessory to murder.

I'll hang up and listen.

Kingfish said...

There is also accessory after the fact, harboring a fugitive, obstruction.... in other words, several ways to skin the cat.

Anonymous said...

Good lord. Just goes to show you how truly sick people are. Even the 'gentle old man' next door.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I get it. The ole pregnancy defense!!! That will get you out of jail! And, get released into the loving arms of the baby daddy mama. No. The taxpayers do not want to pay for her "delicate condition." But, guaranteed a woman that has sex with an 81 year old strapping a d**** .buying and probably smoking weed... She will find a way for the state to pay for her, her pregnancy and her baby. There are plenty of women in jail with far worse conditions that have done much less. And they don't get house arrest! Even if the detective cannot prove she pulled the trigger. She WAS THERE! Her DNA WAS THERE. And, this breach little unborn baby she has was there. This is just a disgusting case!!! and on behalf of all hard working, nose wiping, stressed out, trying to make ends meet, women that have ever been pregnant and could not get any help much less healthcare. She needs to STF UP! Do her damn time and stop the poor me BS!!

Anonymous said...

smoking weed while pregnant? when the baby is born, can charges be brought against her if the baby tests positive for anything? or would it even matter

Anonymous said...

There's not enough evidence to make a felony murder charge stick. The prosecution had a hard time proving who killed Mr. Kendrick. They would have an even more difficult time trying to prove that the killing occurred during the commission of a burglary, arson, robbery, rape, or kidnapping (the BARRK crimes associated with felony murder). The money could have been taken from Mr. Kendrick's body after he was killed. If the murderer killed with the motive of taking the money, that's pre-meditated murder, not felony murder.

As others have already pointed out, though, Ms. Blackwell is clearly an accessory after-the-fact at least. Her testimony alone is enough to prove that.

Anonymous said...

I would be willing to bet she does not have Blue Cross/Blue Shield card and the texpayers are already footing the bill for pot-baby.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. She is not charged with robbery so any discussion of capital murder is asinine. Thankfully we (not even JPD) still do not base criminal charges on "safe bets" or the reasonable suspicions of those not investigating cases. Otherwise, judges in our system are supposed to go off of the evidence that is presented and the police and prosecution simply did not meet their bar in this case, even as low as it is. Priester got it right.

Amateur Hour said...

Thanks for the amateur hour take on felony murder. I will defer to the attorneys, those who passed the bar, to conduct the legal proceeding. Nevertheless, I am impressed with effort to find fault with the Hinds County DA's Office. Priester set the bail not the DA.

Anonymous said...

One of Jackson's better looking prostitutes.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the Judge is one of her "clients". Something sure smelly fishy

Anonymous said...

@ 3:17 pun intended?

PittPanther said...

3:17pm, I see what you did there.

Skin This... said...

"Several ways to skin the cat"? (To appease Pittpanther I'll go ahead and say I'm quoting the blog owner.)

No cat was skint. The cat apparently has ten lives. This is idiocy in justice at it's worst.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone here know what probable cause is? Q: Would you tell me what evidence you gave in your prior testimony, detective, that shows any evidence that she was the one who killed him? A. At this time we don't have evidence of which one pulled the trigger, only she saying that it was Walter Young that pulled the trigger. p 13

Q. my question is can you tie the time her DNA went on that condom to his death? A. No. p. 14

p.17-18 She is 16 weeks pregnant. ....her baby is in a breech position. ....She is developing gestastional diabetes.

Does anyone remember the diabetic inmate that died from the Jail not treating his diabetes?

So Judge Priester is suppose to investigate the case, prosecute the case, and provide medical care? At some point people you have to live in the world that is and not in the world that should be. A true court would have thrown it out. I know Rankin and Madison wouldn't but they are setting $100,000 bonds on drug charges which is illegal. Bond is not punitive.

Finally anyone else notice that the transcript is not sworn to? meaning this is not a finished transcript.

Anonymous said...

@5:50 You're right on point with everything that was said. I'm curious to know how did Kingfish get the transcript anyway. Apparently he didn't pay and get a copy from the Court Reporter with all the lines drawn on it. Not an official transcript. I sure hope Mr. Kendrick's family were made aware of all the details of the investigation before this transcript was posted online for the entire world to see.

Anonymous said...

She has a dolphin tattoo on her inner thigh. If you put your ear up to it you can smell the sea!

Anonymous said...

She can be properly charged with capital murder as an accessory before the fact. These facts are similar to the Stephan Hickman case (One that Robert Schuler conflicted out of). Look it up KF.

Anonymous said...

Naive old boy. Bring back hanging for all involved in this cruel murder.

Anonymous said...

the blogger's legal analysis is synonymous with placing his gender designation on the "last, m.i., and first name" line of the ms. bar exam application without an inch of irony. in a letter, "F."

Anonymous said...

Judge Priester graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. Graduated Stanford Law school. And, he actually had to pass a State Bar exam.

I also have watched him grow up since he was in pre-school at St. Andrews. He has not only always been really smart, but also always been really nice and ethical and shown remarkably good judgment for his age at every age.

He quite simply has no reason to be a sleazy judge or politician. It's not in his self-interest and he's smart enough to know it.

Whether his decision was based on this being a high risk pregnancy, which also puts the baby at risk for intensive post natal treatment, or that the woman seems far too dumb to be hard to find later, or if the prosecutor and police failed to given him enough evidence to take a judicial position that was favorable to them, I can't know.

But, I do know that it is reasonable for me to put more credibility in Priester's judgment than in that of anonymous commenters who imagine themselves to be legal scholars and who imagine to have all the facts. That is especially true since it's clear none of you appreciate the ramifications of the testimony about the pregnancy.

Kingfish said...

Would you be asking WLBT or the Clarion-Ledger where they got the transcript if they published it?

Anonymous said...

How in the world does a prostitute determine the baby daddy? Poor innocent child

Shoeless/Toothless said...

Kingfish, I see nothing wrong with you posting the transcript. The family better get ready, cause the story is going to be dragged through the mud eventually.

Anonymous said...

7:17 - you are referring to Jr. His father is the judge.

ATTN: Calling All Priester Water Carriers said...

I also have watched him grow up since he was in pre-school at St. Andrews.

So the Judge is 64 or 65 years old and you've been watching him since he was 4 years old at St. Andrew's? Sure, whatever you say.

Anonymous said...

I would ask WLBT, WJTV and the Clarion Ledger where they got the transcript from if they didn't go through the court reporter to get it. I just hope the family knew the details surrounding Mr. Kendrick's death before you posted the transcript.

Kingfish said...

I have notified someone from the family or close to the family every step of the way. One of them even provided this tidbit:

"It is known that he had gotten threatening text messages promising to humiliate him if he didn't fork over money previously."

Also said the family was not notified about the preliminary hearing. Nice.

It is also none of your business where they got it from. Pentagon Papers and all that jazz, remember?

Anonymous said...

I would ask WLBT, WJTV and the Clarion Ledger where they got the transcript from if they didn't go through the court reporter to get it.

BS you would ask them. You might post an anonymous complaint here but you wouldn't ask them diddly.

Anonymous said...

The real question here is:

Why are the best lawyers in the courthouse working for the Public Defender's Office and not our esteemed District Attorney?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish I'm not trying to argue with you. You contacted the family first I'm good with that. I just didn't want it to be a surprise what was said. Didn't mean to ruffle your feathers.

9:43 Oh I would ask anybody if I wanted too. I just thought it was not compassionate and considerate of the family that the transcript was posted. I guess I'm the only one that felt that way. Kingfish said he talked with the family before so I'm finished with it. Not trying to go there with you either. What happened to people having an opinion? Everybody else posted their opinion.

And just so everyone knows transcripts aren't to be passed around. Each media outlet should contact the court reporter to request a copy of a transcript.

Anonymous said...

A court reporter's transcript is "work product". It is not to be used nor reproduced without the consent of the court reporter. That is part of a court reporter's income, and everyone is required to pay for each copy. The transcript on this site is not even signed by the court reporter, so it is not an official certified transcript. However, it is still the property of the court reporter. Since I haven't seen a comment from Pearlie, the court reporter, I'm assuming that JJ paid for that transcript or will be getting a bill in the mail shortly.

Anonymous said...

I really wish I had not read that... appreciate the posting and the warning though!

Kingfish said...

Keep trying troll. ”. A 10th Circuit Case, Union Local 1745 v. City Of Albuquerque, 2009 WL 2573815 (10th Cir. 2009), held

We have found no authority to justify requiring plaintiffs, and derivatively their attorney . . . to pay a fee to a court reporter for a transcript copy the reporter did not make but, rather, that they legally obtained from another source by independent means. On the contrary, both broad principle and particular holdings undermine the notion that court reporters may demand a “missed fee” whenever someone obtains a copy of a transcript that can be traced back to an original transcript the reporter had made—and was paid for making—for someone else.

In broad terms, [the court reporter's] fee claim rests on the tacit premise that court reporters in some legal sense own the content of the transcripts they prepare, such that they are entitled to remuneration whenever a copy of a transcript is made (even if they played no role in making the copy). To accept this premise would effectively give court reporters a “copyright” in a mere transcription of others’ statements, contrary to black letter copyright law. See 2 William F. Patry, Patry on Copyright, Ch. 4 Noncopyrightable Material, § 4.88 (Updated Sept. 2008) (court reporters are not “authors of what they transcribe and therefore cannot be copyright owners of the transcript of court proceedings”).

And there is a line of cases holding that transcripts independently accessed (such as by simply requesting the case file from the court clerk) may be viewed and copied as an alternative to purchasing a copy from the court reporter. See Kinan v. City of Boston, 112 F.R.D. 206, 208 (D. Mass. 1986); Hawley v. Hall, 131 F.R.D. 578, 583 (D. Nev. 1990); C.P.C. P’ship Bardot Plastics, Inc. v. P.T.R., Inc., 96 F.R.D. 184, 185 (E.D. Pa. 1982); see also Stanley v. Henderson, 590 F.2d 752, 753 (8th Cir. 1979) (noting counsel may obtain copies of appeal transcript from clerk); Schroer v. United States, 250 F.R.D. 531, 535-37 (D. Colo. 2008) (rejecting, under post-2000 Rules (see supra note 1), party’s effort to require immediate filing of transcript with clerk to enable informal copying, not because copying is improper but because party failed to justify burdening the court with filing of as-yet-unused transcripts)..”

Anonymous said...

"Legally obtained from another source by independent means." Then it must be certified and filed. The Supreme Court charges $2 per page. I don't know what the circuit clerk's office charges. And you're right, that money doesn't go to the court reporter; it either goes to the State of Miss. or the Hinds County Circuit Clerk's office. I'm almost certain that once it is certified and filed that anybody could get a copy from the clerk's office for just a copying fee. I wonder why the reporter didn't sign it if it's the official record. Even the copy should have a signature. I do know there was a court reporter's seminar this week, so she may not even know it's on here. Or maybe she just doesn't read this site. Regardless, she can't take it back, and you can't give it back.

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