Convicted murderer Kenneth Haddock and his lawyers say that’s enough to warrant a new trial in the 1992 murder of his wife, Barbara Haddock.
The Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and a Johnson County District Judge, however, disagree.
Soon it will be up to the Kansas Supreme Court to decide whether the hairs are material enough to warrant a new trial. The Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the Kansas University School of Law is representing Kenneth Haddock in the case.
Barbara Haddock’s body was found on Nov. 20, 1992, by her two daughters under a pile of firewood in their Olathe garage. Investigators suspected foul play, and determined Barbara was killed by several blows to the head with an object.
Two hairs were found clutched in her hand at the scene of the crime. Early testing of the hairs showed that they were “consistent” with her husband’s hair. Forensic analyst testimony at the trial said that Haddock was included in the 7.4 percent of the Caucasian population that could have been the contributor of the hairs.
The prosecution’s theory at trial was that Haddock, under pressure from a pending bank fraud case, killed his wife during an argument.
Assistant District Attorney Lannie Ornburn said that the crime scene was orchestrated by Haddock to look like an accident, with Barbara’s body being placed under the firewood to make it appear that she was killed when the wood fell on her.
“Almost immediately Kenneth Haddock started floating this theory that the woodpile must’ve killed her,” Ornburn said.
Haddock has been appealing his case for the past 16 years, arguing that today’s DNA testing could prove his innocence. The most recent legal battle centered on the hairs, as well as blood spatter evidence found on Haddock’s pants, shirt and shoes.
The blood found on Haddock’s clothes was identified through testing as his wife’s, and Johnson County District Judge James Franklin Davis said that evidence further pointed to Haddock’s guilt.
Haddock’s lawyers argue that the blood got on his clothes when Haddock walked through the home following the murder. Haddock also came into contact with his daughters, who had blood on them from finding their mother.
Davis, in an October 2008 ruling on the case, did not grant Haddock a new trial, and ordered him to continue his life sentence for the murder.
But DNA testing showed that the hairs did not come from Haddock, but rather from an unidentified female.
And it’s that evidence that might have altered the outcome of the trial, said Haddock’s attorney, Alice White from the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project.
“This is actual physical evidence that someone else could’ve committed the crime,” White said. “It could’ve had an impact on the jury at the time.”
White also points to a conflict in the timeline of the crimes. Haddock had a receipt that placed him at a restaurant at 3:18 p.m. the day of the murder. The watch that Barbara was wearing during the murder was broken, and stopped at 3:17 p.m., presumably broken during the crime. But that evidence was disputed at trial, as prosecutors brought in watch experts to argue that the watch could have been altered.
But at this point, the appeal of the Johnson County District Court ruling to the Kansas Supreme Court will argue that the hair evidence is cause for a new trial.
White said that it will be several months before the court hears arguments on the case, and another several months before a ruling.