PRESCOTT – With both the prosecution and the defense having rested their cases in the Steven DeMocker murder trial, the judge set closing arguments for this morning, rebuffing protests from the lead defense attorney, who had asked for a postponement till Tuesday because he was “just not prepared.”
DeMocker is accused of bludgeoning to death his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy, with a golf club in July 2008.
On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Gary E. Donahoe told the attorneys that, with all witnesses having been called, he was ready to proceed to closing arguments today.
DeMocker lawyer Craig Williams said that he’s had “no opportunity to prepare for closings,” and, as he has previously, said the county attorney has “an army of people (to prepare material) and we don’t.”
Williams also pointed out that the victims in the case, notably DeMocker’s two daughters, Katie and Charlotte, hadn’t been told the closing arguments would be held today. He said the state had, however, “made arrangements” for Kennedy’s mother, Ruth, to be in Prescott.
“Let’s stop right there,” Deputy County Attorney Steve Young said. “We didn’t arrange for her to come out. She did that on her own.” He added that the state had complied with victim notification laws.
Donahoe was unmoved by Williams’ objections. He said he felt Williams could be ready, because he had “seen Mr. Williams work,” and that victims should have known the trial was wrapping up and made plans to be available.
He said the 17 jurors were about ready for the trial to be over and did not want to make them wait until Tuesday, Oct. 2, to hold closing arguments.
“Would it be a terrible inconvenience for them to come in Tuesday after the defense has had time to prepare properly?” Williams asked, but he did not receive an answer.
Thursday’s testimony started off with a reading of the transcript of an interview given by Terry Carmody in February 2012. Carmody, a 33-year police veteran who ran a detective agency, was to be called by the defense as a law enforcement expert, but he died in March.
The interview, done by Young and Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore, included a scathing review of the police work done by the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at Kennedy’s murder scene.
He also looked at the investigation of the death of James Knapp, who lived in Kennedy’s guesthouse and whose death by gunshot in January 2009 was ruled a suicide.
Carmody said there were too many people inside the crime scene tape at Kennedy’s home, many of whom he suggested were there “just to satisfy their own curiosity.” He didn’t believe the house was searched properly, noting that investigators came back to search again several days later. He also expressed surprise that Knapp was allowed into the guesthouse on the property during an active investigation.
Carmody said Knapp should have been treated as a suspect. “I would have brought Mr. Knapp down to the station and interviewed him,” he said.
He also cast doubt on Knapp’s alibi, noting that his son’s interview establishing that Knapp was with him at the time of the murder felt “coached” to him.
After the defense rested, the prosecution called one rebuttal witness, a longtime friend of James Knapp, Sean Jeralds.
Williams objected on the grounds that Jeralds, a professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, had come forward after reading a Daily Courier article that indicated Knapp was not a pilot.
Williams said using Jeralds to talk about Knapp’s character could lead to an “endless loop of witnesses,” but Donahoe disagreed.
“You’ve disparaged Mr. Knapp,” he said. “You’ve portrayed him as a murderer to this jury. This is the downside to the third-party culpability defense.”
Jeralds said he’d known Knapp since 1988 and that he did indeed hold several flight ratings, and that a current medical exam could have made him eligible to be an airline pilot.
The question, Williams asked, was whether he was being honest when he told doctors he “was a pilot” as his occupation. Jeralds said Knapp had never worked as a pilot.
Jeralds described Knapp as a “very funny individual” who, he said, “was a joy to be around.”
But, he said, Knapp changed after Kennedy’s murder, becoming very dark and depressed.
“He was convinced Mr. DeMocker was going to kill him,” Jeralds said, calling that an “excessive emotional reaction.”
When he got word that Knapp had shot himself, Jeralds said, “I wasn’t surprised. I was angry.”
Source: Scott Orr, The Daily Courier