THE DOG SHEET DEFENSE
When Karen was killed, I talked with Pettey and Hamilton every day. When I called
DPD on March 21, 1999, I was told they weren't there--that it was Sunday. I was a
little embarrassed I didn't know the day of the week. I thought it was good they were
finally taking a day off, and thought nothing of it.
Three and a half years later, in trial, I learned that on March 21, 1999, on his day off,
Sunday afternoon, Mike Pettey was driving west of the house on Chapel Hill Road,
stopping frequently and searching for anything on the side of the road--like a purse, a
knife, clothing--anything. About two miles west of the house, he found a dead dog. It
was a large dog, probably 40-50 pounds, and appeared to have been killed in a dog fight.
There was a sheet and a blanket next to the carcass, with blood on them. Showing an
abundance of caution, he collected the sheet and blanket for forensic testing. The
Department of Forensics made the decision to test the cleanest blood sample on the
linens (the part with the least feces, urine, and dirt on it), and it was found to be dog
blood. The linens were a biohazard, and had a terrible odor, and so samples of them
were kept, and the rest discarded, all in accordance with procedure.
Bonnie Kidd, told police the night of the murder that we owned a dog, and that she had
seen it in our yard within the past few days. She also claimed Karen had made a "drastic
change" in her appearance in the few months preceding her death, and later, that H.M.
Nowlin had been visiting the house.
Well, it turned out she was wrong about the change of appearance, the dog, and H.M.
Nowlin. We didn't own a dog, and hadn't owned one since the summer of 1998 when
we had two small dogs, each weighing about ten pounds.
In summary, there was no Tipton dog, there were no bed linens missing, and the
blood on the side of the road belonged to the dog dumped there.
Simple, huh? Wellllll....
Halbrooks and Powell subpoenaed EVERY VETERINARIAN IN DECATUR,
demanding any veterinary records of mine, trying to find a record connecting me with
ANY dog. They claimed dozens of times that this CRUCIAL EVIDENCE was
destroyed and withheld from them by the police. They made the claims in pre-trial
motions, throughout the trial, and it was one of their sound-bytes in the defense of
DWM. They implied repeatedly we had a dog, it was THIS dog, that I killed the dog,
that I killed Karen, that it was actually Karen's blood on the linens, etc., etc., etc. All
this was done by Halbrooks, with flailing arms and eyeballs popping. In a pre-trial
hearing, they demanded to be taken to the site where the dog was found, and Thompson
ordered Mike Pettey to take Catherine Halbrooks to the place. He did. There were still
dog bones there, as a matter of fact. Later in court, and in repeated motions, Halbrooks
claimed the site of the dog sheet had been withheld from them, that there had been no
pictures taken of the dog, and on, and on, and on. They claimed all this showed DWM
was not guilty. It was neither a rational nor convincing argument.
Enter Catherine Halbrooks...
After DWM was sentenced to death, Powell and Halbrooks claimed yet again that the
dog sheet was evidence of police and prosecutorial misconduct... that crucial
exculpatory information had been withheld from them. And on the basis of SHEET like
this, Judge Glenn Thompson awarded Powell, Halbrooks, and DWM a new trial.
And by the way, samples of the linens were kept, and were available to the defense
team for 16 months prior to trial, to do any testing they wanted on it. They didn't do it.
Just like they didn't retest the DWM's pubic hair. And just like they never even asked
Bonnie Kidd about the dog, or the change in appearance, because being proven wrong
on THREE stupid claims made their star witness and source of half their opening
statement look even more stupid than she did being proven wrong on ONE. The
prosecutors didn't even bother roasting the Kidd, because none of it had anything to do
with SOA v DWM. I wanted them to. It would have been easy.
Now, in 2003, it seems to be "common knowledge" that Mike Pettey destroyed and
withheld the dog sheet, and it must have had SOMETHING to do with the murder.
After all, Catherine Halbrooks says so. The local press says so. If it hadn't been for
Mike Pettey, walking Chapel Hill Road on a Sunday afternoon, nobody would have ever
known anything about this dead dog on the side of the road. He looked everywhere he
could find for a year and a half to find any EVIDENCE pertinent to the investigation of
Karen's murder. Even on the side of the road. On his day off.