Monday, 27 May 2024

Edmonds takes the stand in his trial

LAKEPORT – A man on trial for a murder that occurred last September took the stand in his own defense on Thursday.


Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, was on the stand all day Thursday, explaining his part in the Sept. 22, 2009, death of 25-year-old Shelby Uehling, a recent Lake County resident who had arrived several months earlier from Montana.


Edmonds is charged with murder and a special allegation of using a knife to kill Uehling.


On Wednesday Melvin Dale Norton, 38, Edmonds' codefendant, had testified in the case. Norton is charged with murder, a special allegation that he used a billy club, assault with a deadly weapon, being an accessory, a special allegation of causing great bodily injury, and two strike enhancements.


Edmonds and Norton had allegedly confronted Uehling – who was parked in his vehicle off of Old Highway 53 near Norton's home early on the morning of Sept. 22 – because they said he had been bothering Patricia Campbell, Norton's longtime friend and Edmonds' on-again, off-again girlfriend.


Campbell and Uehling had been romantically involved during a week-long methamphetamine run that took place during a brief breakup between her and Edmonds in September, according to previous testimony.


After Campbell returned to Edmonds, Uehling reportedly wouldn't stop calling her and came over to her mother's home at night to try to find her a few days before his death. That was the context of Norton's and Edmonds' first face-to-face confrontation with Uehling, who left after they told him he wasn't wanted there.


Prosecutor Art Grothe would hammer away at the composure of the soft-voiced Edmonds during hours of cross-examination, showing pictures of Uehling's battered and bloodied body and asking if Edmonds knew how the injuries were inflicted. Edmonds, who testified to having epilepsy, repeatedly responded, “I don't remember.”


Before testimony began for the day, Judge Arthur Mann – out of the jury's presence – told the attorneys that they had to deal with a few juror-related issues, including a man who had appeared at the jury commissioner's office asking questions about the case while three jurors were sitting nearby.


The unidentified man, who called himself “Norton's mentor,” said he wanted to get Norton “a good three strikes attorney.”


Edmonds' defense attorney, Doug Rhoades, also informed the court that he had overheard a man – who had just come into the courtroom – discussing the case outside earlier. Stephen Carter, representing Norton, asked the man to go into the hall to speak and Carter than returned alone.


Carter then asked the judge to question the three jurors about the incident with Norton's “mentor,” and Mann had them brought in one at a time – first a young female then two older males. All three said they hadn't heard much – the two men said they were more intent on their discussion about catfishing – and assured the court that they could remain objective.


That satisfied the attorneys, and the full jury was brought in.


Grothe briefly called District Attorney's Investigator Von Morshed to the stand. She testified to bringing to court from the evidence locker that morning a light pair of blue jeans worn by Norton during the fight with Uehling. Carter entered a stipulation that the jeans were discovered at Norton's residence during a warrant search.


Norton recounts relationships, fatal fight


Rhoades called Edmonds to the stand, who began his testimony by recalling Norton introducing him to Campbell outside of his motor home at Lakeside Resort in the second or third week of June 2009. Campbell, who had left her husband not long before, moved in with Edmonds the next day.


During the course of their nearly four months together, Campbell would leave and return to Edmonds five times, usually only for a few days. She met Uehling at the home of friend Linda Dale, where Edmonds had gone to fix a car.


Campbell and Uehling later became briefly involved but in September and then she returned to Edmonds. Campbell, whose mother lived next door to Edmonds, invited him, Norton and some others over to the home one night after her return to watch movies.


Edmonds said Campbell looked out the window when she saw headlights came up and exclaimed that it was Uehling. By that time, Norton had left.


“She grabbed me by the arm, very, very scared, and said, 'Don't answer the door, don't answer the door,'” Edmond said, recalling Uehling walking around the house looking into the windows.


They called Norton and asked him to come back, and then he and Edmonds told Uehling to leave. “I told him that Patricia did not want him here anymore, she did not want anything to do with him anymore,” Edmonds said.


Edmonds would see Uehling one other time – from a distance as Uehling was driving by – before the Sept. 22 fight.


During the days after she returned from her relationship with Uehling, Campbell slept a lot, and Uehling was constantly calling her, Edmonds said.


On the night of Sept. 21, while Campbell was asleep, a call came in, and Edmonds could see it was from Uehling. He handed the phone to Norton, who answered the call and told Uehling to stop calling and leave Campbell alone.


Norton left to return home on his bicycle around 12:45 a.m. or 1 a.m. Sept. 22, and on the way home spotted Uehling's car off of Highway 53. Edmonds said he had already gone to bed when Norton called him, and he said there was a “significant amount” of fear in his friend's voice, which he had never heard before.


Edmonds got up, put on his clothes – he normally carried two knives in his pants pockets – and jogged up the road to the top of the hill where Uehling was parked. When he got there he heard Uehling and Norton arguing, and as he got closer saw them in a shoving match and witnessed Uehling reaching for something in his waistband.


“I became very, very terrified at that moment, thinking that my best friend was going to get shot or hurt” by a weapon of some sort that he thought Uehling was pulling out to use, Edmonds said.


Edmonds ran up and got between Uehling and Norton, and he said Uehling lunged at him with a knife, cutting his forearm. Edmonds said he hit Uehling, who turned to the side, then Edmonds lunged at him and “we both went down to the pavement.”


During the fight Edmonds said he pulled a double-bladed knife out of his pocket, was able to open it with one hand and continued the fight. He said he was in a “foggy, dreamlike state” throughout the confrontation.


Then Norton tapped him on the shoulder and Edmonds swung around on him, not realizing who it was. “I was in an altered state of consciousness I guess,” he said.


They went back to Norton's home, and once in the bathroom Edmonds realized he had blood on him. Norton helped him bandage his injured arm.


“I remember thinking, 'What the hell just happened?'” Edmonds said.


They put their clothes in a bag that was left in Norton's front bedroom. Then Edmonds went home. Law enforcement later showed up at his home.


He admitted to having not been truthful with police during his interview.


“Did you intend to go down there and kill Shelby?” asked Rhoades.


No, Edmonds said, he just wanted to run him off.


Carter questioned Edmonds about comments he made to friends in phone conversations from jail that were recorded.


Edmonds at one point told a man named Bill that Norton had more charges against him, and “he didn't even do nothing,” which Edmonds agreed that he said.


He also told Norton's aunt Gigi in a phone conversation that “I was the one who did it” with regard to killing Uehling, and that it was done in self defense.


“Was that true, what you were saying?” Carter asked.


“Yeah, yeah it was,” Edmonds said.


He recalled that Uehling was yelling at he and Norton in what he called “tweekinese,” which is like shouting under one's breath with a lot of guttural sounds.


Edmonds said Uehling was acting “extremely crazy” during the fight, swinging wildly with a very intense demeanor which Edmonds attributed to him being on meth.


As the fight wound up, Uehling was moving more slowly and moaning.


“Did you know how much damage you'd done at that point?” Carter asked.


“I had no idea,” said Edmonds.


Late in the morning, Grothe began his cross-examination, which lasted for most of the rest of the court session.


He asked about Edmonds' relationship with Campbell and asked how many times, other than Uehling, he had problems with men making advances toward her. Just once, a man named Serapio, who Edmonds would testify Campbell claimed was stalking her, just as she had said Uehling was.


Around Sept. 14, 2009, Edmonds got a text from Uehling, who thought he was sending the message to Campbell. Edmonds wrote back to him, “Yeah, how much fun did you have with me?”


He later revealed his identity and told Uehling, “She's all yours.” Edmonds said he had suspicions that Campbell was trading sex with Uehling for drugs, and believed she had done it on previous occasions with different men.


Edmonds also told Uehling that he had better hide when he saw him; Edmonds said it wasn't a threat of bodily harm but rather a warning because he planned to take a picture of Uehling and his car and turn it over to police on allegations of methamphetamine use.


Grothe then directly asked Edmonds if he killed Uehling. “Let's go ahead and get that one out front. You killed him.”


“Apparently,” said Edmonds.


“I think we're all pretty clear apparently that he died,” said Grothe, adding that's what happens when you slit someone's throat.


Carter objected, saying Grothe was testifying, and that his comment was sarcastic and “completely inappropriate.” Mann sustained the objection and struck the remarks from the record.


Grothe showed Edmonds the asp, or retractable baton, he is accused of using on Uehling. Edmonds had gotten it from an acquaintance about a month before Uehling's death. He denied having it with him during the fight or using it on Uehling, although he carried it often in his truck.


“There's a lot of bad people in Clearlake,” he said. “I'd feel safer if I had something to defend myself with.”


As Grothe continued pressing Edmonds on details of his story, he often said he didn't remember specifics. “I don't have a perfect memory,” which he attributed to epilepsy.


Grothe asked to have a hearing outside of the jury's presence. With the jury out of the room, he asked to introduce pictures of the inside of Edmonds' motor home that showed a number of weapons, including nunchucks, a small baseball bat, a section of metal pipe, a wooden billy club and throwing stars.


He said the pictures and related questioning were appropriate because they related to Edmonds carrying weapons.


Rhoades argued against Grothe's request, saying that evidence that the asp was even used was “at best, speculation.” He said the pathologist had testified that the marks on Uehling's body were scrape marks, not impact marks from the asp and the other weapons weren't relevant. Carter agreed, saying it seemed inappropriate. Grothe said the pathologist said some of the marks were consistent with the asp.


Mann said that the court previously had excluded the items because they were prejudicial, and although there was some evidentiary value, he said it was far outweighed by the prejudicial effect of showing largely illegal weapons.


After the jury continued, Grothe continued his questioning, emphasizing in his line of inquiry that Edmonds got into the fight with Uehling more about protecting Campbell than going to Norton's rescue.


He asked Edmonds if he pulled his knife specifically to stick Uehling. “Yes,” Edmonds replied softly.


Did he intend to slice Uehling open? Edmonds frowned. “I had it out because he had pulled something and stabbed me.”


Grothe showed pictures of the cut on Edmonds' arm, as well as his hands, which showed no signs of injury.


Edmonds testified to fighting for his life, and said he hit Uehling in the face probably three times, and got in multiple body shots on him, and also got body shots from Uehling. He didn't see Norton swinging a golf club at Uehling.


Grothe showed pictures of Uehling's injuries and asked about how they occurred. Edmonds often replied he didn't remember, although when looking at pictures of Uehling's bruised face he said he may have gotten the injuries when hitting the ground. Also pictured was the large, fatal cut on Uehling's neck, bruises on his torso and knees, and cuts on his hands.


Looking at pictures of the crime scene, Edmonds said he believed left Uehling when he was near a large puddle of blood on the road, not next to a tree, where police later found Uehling's body.


Edmonds testified that he has had five grand mal seizures since Uehling's death, which he said had caused him increased memory problems. Grothe asked him if he had medical documentation to prove it. Edmond said he had gotten no medical help at the jail.


Edmonds will return to the stand for further testimony when court reconvenes Tuesday at 9 a.m.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .


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