LIHU‘E — Testimony was heard Tuesday in the retrial of a man accused of murdering another man in 2001.
William Lowell McCrory was found guilty by members of a jury of stabbing to death Brent “Kirby” Kerr in 2002. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
McCrory’s conviction was overturned by justices of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court last year. The justices agreed that the testimony of one witness for the prosecution was irrelevant and prejudicial.
Kerr’s body was found in the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2001, in naupaka bushes alongside Kuhio Highway near Wailua Beach across from the Coco Palms Resort.
Before witnesses took the stand to testify yesterday, Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe read a statement about how William “Billy” Pierce, one of the original trial’s witnesses, had died.
While the investigation into Kerr’s death was going on, Pierce pointed the finger at McCrory, and he testified at the first trial that he was with McCrory when Kerr’s body was dumped in Wailua.
It being a murder trial, Watanabe pointed out that Pierce died of cirrhosis of the liver.
Dr. Anthony Manoukian testified that he did Kerr’s autopsy at Wilcox Memorial Hospital the day after Kerr was found.
He described a gaping wound that looked like a starburst on the back of Kerr’s head. He also described a defensive wound that was found on Kerr’s right wrist.
Manoukian described a stab wound found on Kerr’s right upper back, and a stab wound found on Kerr’s upper right chest area.
While holding a pocket knife with a 4-inch long blade, the doctor said that the chest wound was consistent with the 3/4- inch width of the knife’s blade.
He also pointed out that the blade went through Kerr’s second rib, and punctured his aorta. That injury would have caused a person to lose consciousness within seconds, and death to occur within a few minutes, said Manoukian.
Kaua‘i Police Department Detective Samuel Sheldon testified that he found Kerr’s body among the naupaka bushes.
The detective said that Kerr was wearing shorts only, and that positive identification was made via a driver’s license that was found in Kerr’s back pocket.
He said that he talked to a witness who was driving by the hotel in the early morning the day the body was found. That witness said she saw two men fighting in the rain near where the body was found, and that a Bronco-type vehicle was parked nearby, facing Lihu‘e.
As the leads came in, Sheldon found out that another detective was trying to locate William “Billy” Pierce. He said Pierce was found in the Kalapaki Beach area, and while looking for Pierce, a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle that was found near the murder scene was located.
Sheldon said that he found out that McCrory owned the vehicle, and that McCrory consented to have it searched.
Sheldon testified that the police saw a pool of blood on the carpet that was on the front passenger’s side of McCrory’s Bronco. They also found blood spots on the driver’s-side door by the window crank, and on the steering wheel. Blood samples were taken, and then processed by technicians at a laboratory.
Sheldon testified that Pierce was picked up and questioned twice.
During the first questioning, Pierce said that he was with McCrory, and that they were driving north on Kuhio Highway early that morning. They turned around because they realized that they were going to run out of gas, and they did so in front of the hotel.
Sheldon said that Pierce and McCrory went to the nearby Rainbow Gas Mart to get gas. Sheldon also testified that Pierce did not remember going for a ride with McCrory.
When Pierce was questioned again, about four hours after he made his first statement, Sheldon said that Pierce and McCrory drove to where Pierce lived in Nawiliwili, and that McCrory asked Pierce for his knife.
Sheldon testified that Pierce told Sheldon that Pierce saw McCrory kill Kerr, after a scuffle had occurred. Sheldon said that Pierce said he saw Kerr fall to the ground.
The detective said Pierce helped McCrory load Kerr’s body into the Bronco, and then they headed to Kapa‘a.
Sheldon also said that Pierce told him McCrory and Pierce had talked about dumping the body somewhere.
Additionally, Sheldon testified that no samples of Pierce’s blood were taken.
Defense attorney Daniel Hempey said that, when the lab report came back on the blood samples found in the Bronco, the report said that DNA foreign to the blood samples tested were found.
“We have no idea who’s DNA that was,” said Hempey.
Testimony in the retrial continues today before a jury.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or firstname.lastname@example.org.