Prosecutor wants to block evidence of victim’s 'bad acts' in murder trial

Monday, February 25, 2008 | 9:38 p.m. CST; updated 2:05 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — Boone County’s chief prosecutor told a judge Monday that a jury should not hear evidence that the victim in last year’s fatal shooting at a McDonald’s restaurant was violent and had harmed his own children in the past.

William Clinch, 37, was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the Sept. 2 death of his brother-in-law, 32-year-old Jeremy Bohannon of Rocheport. Clinch is accused of shooting Bohannon multiple times in the head and leg at close range in the parking lot of the restaurant on Clark Lane as several bystanders looked on.

Bohannon, who was in the midst of a divorce from the defendant’s sister, Amanda, was killed shortly before he was supposed to meet his children for a visit at the restaurant. The children had not yet arrived.

Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Knight argued before Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton that Bohannon’s team of public defenders should be prohibited from bringing up any evidence of the victim’s “bad acts” or “bad character.” The evidence would include restraining orders filed by his wife and reports made to the state Division of Family Services.

He said such evidence was in dispute and should only be allowed in court if the defense can prove the defendant killed in defense of himself or others.

Knight argued in the written motion that there is no evidence that Bohannon was about to use unlawful force against Clinch, who is from Hallsville, or Bohannon’s own children.

In response, Public Defender Michael Coles argued that the prosecution’s motion was premature.

“If such evidence exists — it can be gathered during the discovery process — its possible uses can be considered and then its admissibility at trial can be determined,” Coles wrote in a response to the motion.

During the investigation into the killing, Columbia police investigators discovered a long history of animosity between the suspect and victim, according to a probable cause statement.

A witness told Columbia police that in April 2006 Clinch hid inside Bohannon’s residence and planned to kill him, but Bohannon did not come home, according to a probable cause statement. Investigators also discovered that Clinch performed target practice with the alleged murder weapon, a semiautomatic handgun, the day before killing, according to the statement.

Hamilton did not rule on the prosecution’s motion Monday.

Clinch’s next hearing is scheduled for March.

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