Retrial for killing on Kauai to begin
Two witnesses who played roles in the first trial will be absent this time
LIHUE » A Kauai man sentenced to life in prison for murder four years ago could be a free man within two weeks, his lawyer says.
William McCrory was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2001 death of Brent "Kerby" Kerr, but that conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court and after much delay, McCrory's second trial begins Monday in Lihue Circuit Court.
Kerr was stabbed to death outside the van in which he lived near Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. Police and prosecutors maintained the two had argued and that McCrory stabbed Kerr twice.
On Thursday, Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe heard last-minute motions as McCrory's lawyer, Daniel Hempey, and Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Craig De Costa made final preparations for the first murder trial on Kauai since McCrory's trial in 2002.
McCrory's second trial could prove to be quite different from the last one, with a new judge, a new defense attorney and perhaps a few new witnesses.
Two witnesses, however, will be conspicuous in their absence.
The first is William Pierce, the prosecution's star witness at the first trial. His death from natural causes will force both De Costa and Hempey to rely on written transcripts of Pierce's testimony.
It also appears that Watanabe will allow earlier statements by Pierce -- to police and under oath at a preliminary hearing -- to be read into the record.
In arguments supporting his motions, Hempey said yesterday that Pierce "made inconsistent statements everywhere" regarding his involvement in the death of his drinking buddy.
After first denying any involvement, Pierce then told police he lent McCrory his knife and saw McCrory enter Kerr's van, where he lived. He also admitted helping McCrory move Kerr's body.
Hempey has said he believes Pierce might have killed Kerr.
Also missing will be Rory Knezevich, whose testimony led to the Supreme Court's April 2004 dismissal of the first verdict. Knezevich, who was jailed with McCrory, testified McCrory never proclaimed his innocence and was thinking about pleading guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.
The Supreme Court, in an unanimous decision, decided that Knezevich's testimony, which never included a statement of guilt, was irrelevant and prejudicial, and should not have been admitted.
According to other prosecution witnesses, McCrory was angry with Kerr because he was always borrowing money.
At the time of the October 2001 murder, Pierce, McCrory and Kerr were living in separate vehicles in the Nawiliwili Harbor/Kalapaki Beach area.