The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction of Louis Kuebler and remanded his case back to Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd for a new trial. A Hinds County jury convicted Kuebler in 2011 of first degree murder in the death of Tamra Stuckey.
Kuebler killed Stuckey at his Belhaven Heights apartment in 2010. She had an "unreciprocated romantic interest in Kuebler during this time." The opinion stated:
Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Aaron realized he had left his cell phone in Kuebler’s apartment when he had gone there to use the restroom earlier in the evening. Aaron returned to Kuebler’s apartment to retrieve his phone and found Kuebler rummaging around in his closet looking for something. Tamra appeared to be asleep on the living-room couch. Once Aaron got his phone, Kuebler “put his hand on [Aaron’s] shoulder and sort of hurried [him] out of the [apartment].” Aaron returned to his place and began smoking a cigarette on the front porch. Approximately ten minutes later, Aaron heard Kuebler screaming “hysterically.” Aaron ran back to Kuebler’s apartment to find Tamra lying on the couch, shot in the forehead. When Aaron asked Kuebler what happened, Kuebler told him he and Tamra “were fooling around with each other and that she enjoyed him holding the gun to her head while they had sex.”Kuebler argued that Stuckey tried to commit suicide and the gun went off while he was trying to stop her. However, a scientist for the Mississippi crime lab testified that the gun passed a "drop test" and could not have fired the fatal shot if it indeed fell to the ground. Judge Kidd would not allow Kuebler to present his theory at trial after ruling there was no evidence to support Kuebler's explanation. However, the opinion states that were was some evidence in favor of allowing the instruction:
Before Aaron arrived at Kuebler’s apartment, apparently Kuebler ran to Jennifer and Nate’s apartment, where he beat on their door and yelled, “Tammy got shot in the head. Call 911.” Nate testified Kuebler was “acting pretty crazy . . . screaming and yelling”; so when Nate went into Kuebler’s apartment, he looked for the gun. After walking outside to call 911, Nate returned and found Kuebler’s gun on the floor by the coffee table. Nate observed that Tamra appeared to be deceased. Kuebler, covered in Tamra’s blood, was attempting to give her CPR. Kuebler explained to Nate that the gun had fallen on the ground and gone off. Jennifer testified that when she arrived at the scene Kuebler was screaming and crying, saying, “Tammy, wake up.” He told Jennifer, “[S]omething happened. My pistol fell on the floor.”
Aaron returned to his place to tell Kristen that Tamra had been shot. Kristen called 911. At 2:41 p.m., the Jackson Police Department (JPD) received the call reporting the shooting. Officer Derrick Archey was the first responder on the scene, but other JPD officers arrived shortly thereafter, including Officers Keith Freeman, Sean Snow, Dewayne West, Carl Ellis, Mark Seals, and Crime Scene Investigator Eneke Smith. Tamra was pronounced dead at the scene. The officers found Tamra’s body lying on the couch, with a gunshot wound to the head, with her feet “tucked” under the couch pillows.
The officers took statements from Kristen, Aaron, Nate, and Jennifer. However, when officers attempted to put Kuebler in the back seat of a patrol car in order to question him (as is the procedure and which was done to the other witnesses), Kuebler became belligerent. He shouted obscenities and racial slurs, as well as physically resisted the officers. He was also telling the officers to “get [Tamra] some help,” but the ambulance was already on the scene and medics had pronounced Tamra dead. When Kuebler refused to get into the patrol car, or put his hands behind his back after wrestling with the officers, they forced him to the ground and put handcuffs on him while he kicked and screamed. Once inside the patrol car, Kuebler proceeded to kick out one of the windows, resulting in the police placing him in leg shackles.
Investigator Smith recovered a Smith and Wesson .380 caliber handgun from the crime scene, along with two live rounds in the magazine, and one live round and shell casing from the floor. The gun and bullets were processed for fingerprints, but none were found. At the JPD station, Kuebler’s hands were swabbed and the materials sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab (MCL) for a gunshot-residue test. Gunpowder was found on the back of Kuebler’s right hand and left palm. Also, particles indicative of gunpowder were found on his right and left palms, and the back of his right and left hands. While JPD did not perform a gunshot-residue test on Tamra, Dr. Feng Li, the forensic pathologist, did. The test was sent to the MCL for processing; however, an analysis was not conducted on Tamra’s kit because of the lab’s policy not to perform analyses on victims “due to the fact that a victim of a gunshot wound” would always test positive. However, the State submitted Tamra’s gunshot-residue kit to the MCL for analysis the first day of trial. On the third day of trial, the lab released the results of the test. Gunpowder was positively found on the back of Tamra’s right hand and palm, and on the back of her left hand. Further, particles indicative of gunpowder were found on both of her hands.
In September 2010, Kuebler was indicted for deliberate-design murder under Mississippi Code Annotated section 97–3–19(1)(a) (Rev. 2014), with the charge enhanced for using a firearm during the commission of a murder, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97–37–37 (Rev. 2014).
*No fingerprints were found on the weapon. The lack of fingerprints could not refute the possibility of Stuckey firing the weapon.
*Residue was found on the back of both of her hands and her right palm.
*The state's expert could not rule out accident as cause of death nor disprove the gun was in her hands when it fired.
*Witnesses testified Kuebler was trying to give Stuckey CPR when police arrived. Kuebler asked police to call a medic.
The Court states that Kuebler had a right to present this defense to the jury and was denied his most basic rights by Judge Kidd. The Court also decreed that Judge Kidd erred in allowing the prosecution to present evidence of Kuebler's flight from Hinds County since it took place long after the death of Stuckey and thus had no probative value. Judge Kidd also refused to allow Kuebler to explain his flight, again denying him of his rights. Kuebler had apparently been in a wreck and was informed he was going back to jail by deputies. Kuebler had been beaten badly in jail before his flight and had medical evidence to present that documented his injuries from the beating suffered at the jail. However, Judge Kidd refused to allow that evidence as well but allowed the evidence of the flight itself to be used against Kuebler.
Mr. Kuebler was represented by Tom Royals, Ed Blackmon, and Jane Tucker at trial.
Louis gets another day in court.
Court of Appeals affirms conviction
Kuebler bond revoked.
Kuebler bond is $250,000
Judge Kidd yet to rule on bond for Kuebler
Kuebler indicted and arrested.
When will it stop?