Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Edmonds returns to stand in murder trial; defense rests

LAKEPORT – One of two men being tried together for a September 2009 Clearlake murder was back on the stand Monday.

Shannon Lee Edmonds, 35, spent about 45 minutes on the stand Tuesday, following several hours of testimony he gave when court was in session last Thursday.

Edmonds is facing charges for murder and a special allegation of using a knife to kill 25-year-old Shelby Uehling during a fight along Old Highway 53 in Clearlake in the early morning hours of last Sept. 22.

Edmonds' codefendent, Melvin Dale Norton, was on the stand last week. The 38-year-old Norton faces charges of 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.

The deadly confrontation had allegedly arisen because Edmonds and Norton walked up to warn Uehling, who was parked not far from Norton's home, to leave Patricia Campbell alone. She was a longtime family friend of Norton's and Edmonds' on-again, off-again girlfriend who had dated Uehling for about a week in September during a breakup with Edmonds.

Also on Tuesday, the defense asked for time to investigate new information suggesting that two other men may also have been in a physical confrontation with Uehling a day or so before his death.

The defense attorney and prosecution put Edmonds through several rounds of questions during his brief return to the stand.

Edmonds' defense attorney, Doug Rhoades, began redirect questioning of Edmonds Tuesday morning, asking him about his difficulty answering prosecutor Art Grothe's questions last week about the fact that Uehling was dead.

Edmonds explained that it was very hard for him to accept that something he did caused Uehling to die, but he acknowledged that the former Montana resident was dead.

Stephen Carter, Norton's defense attorney, asked if Edmonds saw Norton and Uehling physically fighting when he arrived at Uehling's car, parked off of Highway 53 near Norton's home. Edmonds said no, and he did not see Norton using a golf club he was carrying against Uehling.

Grothe asked Edmonds if he saw Norton hitting Uehling. Edmonds said it was too dark to tell if they were shoving or hitting each other.

The prosecutor then drew Edmonds' attention to a transcript of his interview with Clearlake Police detectives hours after Uehling's death on Sept. 22.

In that interview, Edmonds told police that Uehling and Norton were “basically going on at it,” and described them as “boxing.” But when Grothe asked him on Tuesday of the men were fighting, Edmonds said he didn't know, although he acknowledged he had told police they were.

When it was again Rhoades' turn, he asked Edmonds if he had seen Norton and Uehling with their fists up, facing each other, he said no.

Rhoades then asked when Clearlake Police interviewed him on Sept. 22. Edmonds said it was shortly before 10:30 a.m. During questioning, Rhoades concluded that Edmonds had been awake 25 hours at that point.

“Safe to say you were getting pretty tired?” Rhoades asked.

“Very,” Edmonds replied.

Carter asked if Edmonds had answered the detectives' questions fairly and honestly at the time. Edmonds said yes. Carter asked if any of the questions in court changed Edmonds' testimony that when he ran up to the scene he found Norton and Uehling in some kind of physical confrontation. Edmonds said it did not.

Grothe, noting that Edmonds said testified to answering police fairly and honestly, pointed to several pages in the transcript where he alleged discrepancies.

In particular, Grothe said Edmonds had told police that he hadn't known Uehling and Campbell had a sexual relationship, which contradicted testimony he gave in court last week.

Edmonds also had given police a chronology of his activities, which Grothe pointed out omitted killing Uehling.

“So that was a lie?” Grothe asked.

“Correct,” said Edmonds.

Edmonds admitting to lying to police about Norton's phone call to him before the fight, warning him about Uehling's presence. He had told police Norton had called to say “he was home and he'd see me tomorrow.”

Grothe also pointed out that Edmonds had not been truthful about his blood-stained clothing, and that he had said he had injured his arm when falling over a fence rather than being stabbed by Uehling, as he testified in court.

At one point in the police interview Edmonds said the situation was “bullshit,” and Grothe asked him what he meant. He said he felt Det. Tom Clements was harassing him with repetitive questions, “just as you're doing now,” Edmonds told Grothe.

Grothe followed by suggesting Edmonds didn't do his best to answer the officers truthfully, and Edmonds replied no, not at the beginning.

Rhoades pointed to the transcript about a third of the way into the interview when Edmonds asked for a cigarette and was promised he would receive one when the interview was done. He asked Edmonds if, from that point forward, he was attempting to tell the truth. He said he was.

Rhoades read from the transcript, in which Edmonds told police he and Uehling got into a brawl, Uehling pulled a knife and stabbed him and Edmonds stabbed him back.

“This was happening pretty fast, was it not?” Rhoades asked.

“Extremely,” Edmonds said.

During testimony it was noted that Edmonds told police that he was scared and terrified, which was a reason for lying.

Grothe questioned Edmonds about his statements to police about not wanting to go to prison over Uehling, who Edmonds had called a drug dealer.

Was he still afraid of going to prison? Grothe asked.

“Of course,” Edmonds said.

“You still willing to lie to avoid that, sir?” asked Grothe.

“No,” Edmonds replied.

Rhoades asked his client if, during the fight, he remembered Uehling saying, “Stop, that's enough, I quit, anything like that?”

“No, not at all,” Edmonds said.

As Grothe returned to questioning, Edmonds testified to remembering “a lot of screaming through the entire fight.”

Grothe asked if he remembered Uehling screaming near the oak tree where his body later was found after his throat was cut. Edmonds said no.

He played a snippet of Norton's interview with police in which he imitated Uehling making a guttural “agggghhhh” sound.

Rhoades asked if Norton had heard other people making sounds like that described by Norton. He said yes. Were those people using methamphetamine? Yes, Edmonds said.

Carter asked Edmonds if he associated those sounds with Uehling being angry during the fight as opposed to being hurt. Yes, Edmonds replied.

Grothe asked if Edmond had ever heard someone attempting to speak who has had the horns of their thyroids broken off and their throat crushed. Rhoades objected to the question, which he said was “convoluted,” but Judge Arthur Mann overruled.

“I've heard people scream who have been punched in the throat,” Edmonds stated.

The attorneys asked to approach the bench, after which the jury was briefly excused and the attorneys went into the judge's chambers for a short time. When they returned the jury brought back in and testimony continued.

At that point the defense stated that they rested.

Prosecution calls rebuttal witnesses

In presenting rebuttal witnesses, Grothe recalled Clearlake Police Officer Michael Carpenter, who testified earlier in the trial. Carpenter, who came to the stand in uniform, was the first to arrive at the scene and discover Uehling's body.

The attorneys questioned him about dealing with people who use methamphetamine. He described them as having rapid speech and a dry mouth, and being unable to stay on topic in conversation. Their tongues move around rapidly, they can't control their bodily functions, their eyes are dilated and have rapid movement, and their internal clocks are off.

“There's a reason it's called speed?” Rhoades asked.

“Correct,” Carpenter said.

Rhoades asked Carpenter about bruxism, which he said is teeth grinding, another symptom of methamphetamine use, as well as scratching.

Rhoades questioned the officer about when Uehling's shirt was removed. Carpenter said it was sliced open at the scene and removed at the hospital.

Carpenter, under questioning both by Rhoades and Carter, didn't remember if Uehling had been strapped to a backboard for the ride to the hospital. Nor had he ever seen a dead body strapped down.

“Doesn't it matter how a body that's needed for evidence is transported?” Carter asked,.

Carpenter said he didn't see the body fall off the gurney. From the scene to the hospital medics had conducted cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Uehling.

Carter asked if Carpenter had received any training in the psychological aspects associated with methamphetamine. He said he was not.

Grothe entered a stipulation that a zip tie that had been attached to the end of an asp – or extendable baton – that the men are alleged to have used against Uehling was actually placed there by Clements prior to his testimony.

The defense also entered a stipulation that Officer Timothy Alvarado would testify that he interviewed Linda Dale and Joseph Taylor, who told him that at 9 p.m. Sept. 21, 2009, Uehling called Taylor to tell him that he was standing in field near Cass Avenue, which is near Old Highway 53.

Following the stipulation, Grothe requested the asp be moved into evidence. The defense did not object and Mann accepted it.

Following the lunch break, the jury heard from Alisha Stottsberry, a registered nurse who is medical director at the Lake County Jail – which she and Grothe were careful not to mention by name because of concerns about Edmonds' incarceration being prejudicial.

Edmonds had stated in testimony last week that he has epilepsy and that five grand mal seizures he had suffered since his arrest last Sept. 22 have caused him to lose memory.

When asked directly about Edmonds' medical conditions and records, Stottsberry said she couldn't answer because of new laws preventing disclosure without Edmonds' consent. Grothe asked Mann to order her to answer, which Mann did, saying that Edmonds had already disclosed the information and therefore it was not a violation of health record disclosure laws.

Based on a review of Edmonds' medical records, Stottsberry said Edmonds did report suffering from “seizures” on his medical intake form. On Dec. 29, nonmedical staff at the jail witnessed him having a seizure, although Stottsberry said it wasn't a grand mal-type seizure, which can result in violent shaking and tremors, a subject being unable to breath and losing bowel control.

Edmonds also reported having another seizure that was not witnessed by staff on Dec. 31. At that time Stottsberry said it was documented that Edmonds reported having other seizures not witnessed by staff.

Rhoades asked Stottsberry about longterm memory loss as the result of seizures. He pointed to Epilepsy Foundation documents that stated long-term and short-term memory loss are symptoms of the disease. She said her experience is that people who suffer from seizures usually don't remember what happened during the seizure.

He also asked her about Edmonds' epilepsy medications, the dosages for which are at 1,800 milligrams. Stottsberry called that level “medium high.”

After Stottsberry left the stand, Carter and Rhoades asked the court for more time to try to locate a woman named Katherine Lawson who visited Norton in jail on Saturday and told him that Campbell's ex-husband and a relative of his had a physical alteration with Uehling within 48 hours of his death.

Carter's and Rhoades' investigators were trying to locate the woman, and they asked for a brief stay in the trial while they investigated. “None of this information was ever know by my client or me or Mr. Rhoades or his client prior to this morning,” said Carter.

Rhoades called it “somewhat tenuous information” but felt it needed to be investigated.

Grothe was against the delay. “I'm always somewhat leery of these last minute, 'somebody else did it' assertions by folks who come into the jail,” said Grothe, adding he didn't think it would be admissible.

Mann gave the defense until 9 a.m. Wednesday, noting that the information seemed “pretty speculative.”

Closing arguments are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

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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