McCrory murder retrial to start soon

LIHU’E — The retrial of a man found guilty of second-degree murder in 2002 is scheduled to begin next week.

William Lowell McCrory was found guilty by members of a jury of stabbing to death Brent “Kerby” Kerr. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

McCrory’s conviction was reversed on appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court last year. The justices agreed that the testimony of a witness for the prosecution was irrelevant and prejudicial.

On Thursday, McCrory’s court-appointed attorney, Daniel Hempey, went before Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe to argue several pretrial motions.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday.

Hempey asked Watanabe if he could have access to the list of potential jurors to see if any of them had been convicted of a felony.

“It could hurt my client’s right to a fair trial,” said Hempey. “I’m asking for a level playing field,” he added.

County Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa pointed out that the potential jurors are screened to make sure that they don’t have any felony convictions. However, he said that the list of potential jurors can be provided.

Hempey also asked that he be provided with a composite sketch made by officers of the Kaua’i Police Department. Hempey pointed out that a police report referred to a sketch that showed Kerr alive and in a field in Wailua more than two hours after he was killed in Nawiliwili.

De Costa pointed out that he did not have the sketch when Hempey asked for it during the pretrial process. He also pointed out that arrangements were made with KPD’s records clerks to review all the records, and the records did not include a composite sketch.

“He (Hempey) needs to prove that it existed and that it was destroyed,” said De Costa to Watanabe.

Hempey asked that parts of William “Billy” Pierce’s statements made at the pretrial hearing be read into the record at the retrial.

At the first trial, Pierce testified that he saw McCrory stab and kill Kerr. Since the original trial, Pierce died.

Pierce made inconsistent statements at the pretrial hearing, Hempey said, and that he should be able to point out to the jury that Pierce lied. Pierce was never cross examined on those inconsistent statements, Hempey said.

Although it would be like talking to an empty chair, Hempey said the exercise would be important because that empty chair is trying to convict his client.

Hempey said that Pierce’s death had nothing to do with his client. He pointed out that, it being a murder case, then perhaps Pierce’s cause of death should be made known to the jury.

Watanabe asked Hempey to prepare a statement to be read to the jury. Watanabe is expected to rule on the motions before jury selection takes place on Monday morning.

According to police reports, Kerr’s body was found by a passerby in naupaka bushes near the Coco Palms Resort on Kuhio Highway in Wailua on Oct. 26, 2001.

The body was found near where witnesses said they saw McCrory’s Bronco parked along Kuhio Highway, and where McCrory and Pierce testified that the vehicle ran out of gas early in the morning of that day.

Pierce was never arrested or charged in connection with the crime, although he owned the murder weapon and testified that he saw and heard the stabbing outside Kerr’s van in Nawiliwili in the early-morning hours of that day.

Pierce also testified that he helped dispose of Kerr’s body, and hid the knife from police.

Kerr was moved to a prison in Arizona after sentencing, and will be staying at the Kauai Community Correctional Center in Wailua for the duration of the retrial.

Hempey was appointed to represent McCrory in July 2002, when McCrory’s first murder trial was held.

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