How and when Kaua’i Police Department detectives looked for information about who stabbed Brent “Kirby” Kerr were brought out Wednesday in court.
William Lowell McCrory was accused of murdering Kerr in 2001. In 2002, a jury convicted McCrory to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
He is being retried by another jury after the state Supreme Court overturned McCrory’s conviction in 2004.
While the investigation was ongoing, William “Billy” Pierce said he saw McCrory kill Kerr, and testified to such at the original trial and at a pretrial hearing.
Since the original trial, Pierce has died.
Detective Samuel Sheldon testified that he and others working on the case pursued viable leads after Kerr’s body was found on the afternoon of Oct. 26, 2001, in naupaka bushes along Kuhio Highway in front of the Coco Palms Resort in Wailua.
He said that Mark McCabe was questioned by police in relation to the killing. At the time of the crime, McCabe was dating Kerr’s ex-girlfriend and was a person of interest.
Sheldon said he talked to Eleanor Nuesca, who was driving by the resort in the early morning hours of the day that Kerr’s body was found. There she saw two men fighting near an SUV type vehicle.
He said that other detectives working the case talked to others who were in the car with Nuesca. He pointed out that the passengers in the car did not see what Nuesca saw.
Witness Gene Verzosa testified on the stand that he was working at the Rainbow Gas Mart when two men walked in during the early morning hours of the day that Kerr’s body was found. He said that they told him that they had run out of gas, and that one of them wanted to trade a necklace to buy gas.
When asked to identify the person who wanted to trade the necklace, Verzosa pointed to defendant McCrory.
Detective Marvin Rivera testified that he retrieved surveillance videotape from Rainbow Gas Mart. A part of the tape was played in court, and Rivera said that it showed what appeared to be a vehicle that was consistent with what another witness saw parked near where Kerr’s body was found.
On the stand, Rivera said that Verzosa was also able to pick McCrory’s picture out of a photo lineup.
Additionally, Rivera said that a witness who was at the Rainbow Gas Mart when McCrory and the other person were there, identified the other person as Pierce in a photo lineup.
On the evening of Oct. 28, Rivera said that other KPD detectives and investigators located McCrory in the Kalapaki area. He said that they also saw a vehicle there that fit the type of car that was seen where the body was found. The vehicle turned out to be McCrory’s Ford Bronco, and consent to search it was given that night by McCrory.
Rivera said that the passenger side door was open, and when he shined his flashlight into the floor area, he saw what appeared to be a puddle of blood on the carpet.
Rivera said he backed away from the Bronco and shut the door.
The Bronco was impounded and McCrory and Pierce were brought in for questioning, said Rivera.
Parts of Pierce’s testimony in the first trial was read into the court record. Circuit Judge Kathleen N.A. Watanabe’s law clerk Angela Anderson played Pierce. She answered questions when asked by County Prosecutor Craig De Costa, who played then County Prosecutor Michael Soong.
According to trial testimony, Pierce testified that he, McCrory and Kerr lived out of vehicles in the Kalapaki area, and that they were all drinkers.
Pierce said that he was drinking in the morning of the day before Kerr’s body was found. He said that he did not remember how he ended up in McCrory’s Bronco later that night. He said he was sleeping in the Bronco, and woke up and found out that they were parked by Kerr’s van.
Pierce said that McCrory asked to use his knife, then McCrory left the Bronco and went over to the back of Kerr’s van.
Pierce said McCrory opened the back of the van, grabbed Kerr, and either head-butted or pushed Kerr backwards.
Pierce then said that McCrory handed the knife back to him and that it was dripping with blood.
Pierce said that McCrory asked for help to put the body in the Bronco, onto the front passenger’s floor area.
Pierce said that the next thing he knew, they were driving, “I guess to get rid of the body,” he said.
He said that they ran out of gas in front of the Coco Palms, and that McCrory told him to get the body out. He said that they put the body in the bushes, and then pushed the Bronco about 10 to 20 feet ahead of where they had dumped the body.
Then they went to get gas, he said.
When questioned by police the second time, early in the morning of Oct. 29, Pierce said that after Kerr was stabbed, McCrory told him to get rid of the knife. He said that he did not want to do it. He said that knife was from his exwife, and that as a mechanic, he used it while he worked.
Pierce was asked questions by McCrory’s attorney, Daniel Hempey, who played the part of public defender James Itamura.
Itamura was McCrory’s attorney at the first trial.
Pierce said he made a second statement to the police to avoid being implicated for Kerr’s death. He said that he was afraid that he was going to jail.
Testimony in the retrial will continue today.
- Cynthia Kaneshiro, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 256) or email@example.com