ROLLA, Mo.--A court hearing continues as to alleged evidence suppression in an Ozarks murder case but much of the testimony Wednesday seemed to put a highway patrol investigator on trial.
Brad Jennings of Buffalo is serving 25 years in prison for the 2006 Christmas morning murder of his wife Lisa Jennings.
This is the second day of the hearing that will determine if there is enough new evidence to grant Jennings a new trial or set him free.
This whole hearing centers around an allegation that the state suppressed a key piece of evidence in the original trial. That being a gunshot residue test on the robe worn by Brad Jennings when his wife was shot. It showed no gunshot residue and the defense says it never got those tests from the highway patrol.
The defense lays blame specifically on highway patrol investigator Dan Nash.
With defendant Brad Jennings present defense attorneys called 3 witnesses to directly call Nash's credibility into question.
The defense is trying to paint a picture that Nash has purposely submitted false testimony and statements in previous court cases and investigations.
One former Greene County prosecutor testified that Nash gave a different story on the witness stand than he told her behind the scenes.
"With regard to his credibility, there were many attorneys in the Greene County prosecutor's office as well as defense attorneys who did not believe his testimony," said Penny Speake, former Greene County Assistant Prosecutor. " As prosecutors, I informed my other attorneys to look for other evidence to corroborate his statements and not have a case rely solely on officer Nash's testimony."
Another witness, a former Buffalo school teacher, Bridget Maddux, told the judge that Nash made up statements in the Jennings death investigation that he attributed to her.
"Was there anything in that report that caused you any concern," the Jennings counsel asked.
"Yes...some of the statements weren't things that I said," said Maddux.
Former Dallas County Sheriff Mike Rackley describes the reaction of his former deputy, Scott Rice, when their office learned the highway patrol was taking over the death investigation of Lisa Jennings.
"He said you're not gonna let the (expletive) highway patrol turn this into something it's not," said Rackley.
The Dallas County Sheriff had already ruled the death a suicide but claims mistakes were made in the initial investigation.
The now Sheriff Scott Rice says he was never informed about gunshot residue testing but that highway patrol investigator Dan Nash had a different theory
"Dan Nash showed me a picture I'd taken of Lisa's hand with blood drop on her hand," said Rice. "In another form. He said the picture of this blood droplet proves that she didn't kill herself."
After the defense rested its case at noon the state began defending itself and first called retired highway patrol investigator Roger Renken to the stand.
Renken testified about his belief that crime scene photos and blood analysis lead him to believe Lisa Jennings death was more consistent with murder than suicide as was originally ruled by Dallas County authorities.
"I have never worked on a case or been associated with a case in the 36 years I've been in law enforcement where there wasn't some back spattered on the victim's hand and even lower arm. In some cases, all the way back on their shoulder", said Renken.
Renken said his theory was based on the absence of back spatter on Lisa Jennings right hand.
But, remember, Jennings did have gunshot residue on her right hand
It's important to note this is not a second criminal trial. Brad Jennings is seeking relief now in the form of freedom or a new trial based on the discovery of the gunshot residue evidence that was not disclosed to the original defense team at the original trial.
It's very rare that judges in these hearings simply grant freedom most often they will give the state a chance to retry the case.
Investigator Nash is on the list of witnesses to be heard Thursday and that is when the hearing should conclude.
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