A large stick in a pile of leaves is commonplace in Kentucky, but one such stick found in a Hickman County yard could yield evidence in a two-year-old murder case.
Defense attorneys for Kendrick Hunt, a man facing murder charges in the 2011 beating death of Derek Moore, say they found a homemade bat that they believe is the murder weapon used to bludgeon Moore to death. The evidence was found just four days before Hunt was supposed to face trial, and the discovery has led to a significant delay in the trial.
"We've maintained that Mr. Hunt is not guilty this entire time, and we are still confident," Hunt's attorney Tom Griffiths said. "So confident that we are going ask the jury to acquit Mr. Hunt."
Moore's body was found on the side of the road in Fulton County in September 2011. Moore died later that day at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
Hunt, Jeremy Irons and Connel Mounday were all arrested six months later after they were indicted by a Hickman County grand jury on charges of capital murder, capital kidnapping and first-degree robbery. Irons and Mounday pleaded guilty a year later to lesser charges, tampering with physical evidence and wanton endangerment, and received 15 years behind bars. They both only are required to serve 20 percent of their sentences, which leaves them eligible for parole after three years, which will fall in late March.
Commonwealth attorney Mike Stacy said there is no proof that the stick found by Griffiths and his partner Abigail Barnes is the murder weapon. Kentucky State Police searched the area twice, Stacy said, and collected all evidence that was pertinent to the case.
Griffiths and Barnes found the bat-like object during a routine walk through the murder scene. They took photos, then went to the courthouse to inform Judge Tim Langford. Local police shut down the scene, and collected the object to be sent off for forensic testing.
Initial test results showed a hair recovered from the object, but Stacy noted there was no blood found. The stick will be tested by several labs in the coming months. If it is related to the killing of Moore, it has been in the yard for two years unprotected from the elements.
"I've been doing this for a long time and I have been amazed at what they can find," Griffiths said.
The case has not been without its drama already. Griffiths filed a motion to expel Stacy from the case, because of Stacy's ties to the Moore family. Stacy said he grew up with the Moore family, but Langford dismissed the motion after a short hearing.
A new trial date has been tentatively set for Sept. 22, but the two sides meet again Thursday morning to discuss a finalized date and any more findings on the evidence.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.