Witnesses' reluctance, protection key to Hammond murder trial - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Witnesses' reluctance, protection key to Hammond murder trial

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Troya Sheckles (Source: WAVE 3 Archives) Troya Sheckles (Source: WAVE 3 Archives)
Dejuan Hammond Dejuan Hammond
Elizabeth Jones Brown Elizabeth Jones Brown
Ted Shouse Ted Shouse
Lt. Col. Carl Yates Lt. Col. Carl Yates

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Prosecutors claim that two once-reluctant witnesses will be the keys to convicting a Louisville man of ordering a woman killed, so that her own testimony wouldn't send his brother to prison for murder.

Troya Sheckles was shot to death in Shelby Park on March 23, 2009. Prosecutors say she was the only eyewitness who could have tied Lloyd Hammond to the murder of her boyfriend two-and-one-half years earlier.

Steven Pettway, now 21, has been convicted of killing Sheckles. But prosecutors allege that Dejuan Hammond, 33, ensured that his brother would go free by contracting for Sheckles murder.

"Some witnesses may be more cooperative than others," Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Elizabeth Jones Brown told jurors in opening statements for Hammond's trial Wednesday afternoon. "They may remember more than others."

Among those witnesses: Ike Kinnison, 22, and Don'Teze Hurt, 36. Prosecutors allege that Hurt was with Sheckles when she died, and saw who shot her. Kinnison, they claim, heard Pettway brag about it.

"Dejuan Hammond entered right behind (Pettway) looked at Kinnison and said: we straight", Brown told jurors.

But defense attorney Ted Shouse insists that Hammond is guilty of nothing more than a detective's rush to judgement.

"It took the Commonwealth 15, excuse me, 59 minutes to decide that Dejuan had committed this crime," Shouse told the jury. "There's no physical evidence in this jigsaw puzzle box. Here's what they did after two and a half years: street talk and innuendo."

Kinnison was charged with drug trafficking shortly after refusing to testify against Hammond in October.

Prosecutors dismissed the charges, but Hammond was re-indicted after Kinnison and Hurt were put in protective custody.

"I can't say what Kinnison will testify to," Shouse said. The implication: Kinnison has other reasons besides fear, either to lie or to refuse to testify.

All this means extra security precautions to protect witnesses, and ensure order during Hammond's trial, according to Lt. Col. Carl Yates, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

"There may be certain people that we won't allow into a courtroom," said Yates. "We monitor very closely where, when, people are congregating."

At least four deputies were present during jury selection and opening statements. They also kept watch outside the courtroom during recesses.

"We would do everything possible, in concert with the judge's wishes, to protect anybody who uses that courthouse," Yates said. "Witnesses, attorneys, jurors, defendants - everybody."

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