COLUMBIA — A neighbor who lived next to Amanda Clinch and Jeremy Bohannon when the two were married and sharing a home in Rocheport testified Thursday that Jeremy Bohannon’s behavior seemed to shift "from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde."
Kelley Cordrey, who took the stand just before court recessed for lunch, also said she once saw roughly a dozen bruises on one of the couple's three children, Makiyah, who was about 2 years old at the time.
Cordrey's testimony for the defense was part of Public Defender Jennifer Bukowsky's effort to paint Bohannon, whom Clinch shot to death in September 2007, as an abusive father with a violent temper. The defense hopes to persuade the jury that Clinch's motive was self defense, born of a desire to make his sister and her children permanently safe.
Clinch, 39, of Hallsville, is on trial for first-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Bohannon, who he shot in the parking lot of the McDonald’s on Clark Lane in Columbia in September 2007.
Earlier Thursday, the Lafayette County jury listened to two recordings of a conversation between Clinch and his nephew, Joey, in which uncle and nephew told each other they loved one another. The conversation took place four months after the slaying of the boy’s father.
“They (the children) don’t know that you killed their dad?” Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight asked Clinch.
“No, they don’t,” he replied in a flat tone of voice.
Knight asked the defendant how he planned to inform his nieces and nephew. Clinch said he still doesn’t have a plan.
Two of the three children were present in the courtroom for part of the first two days of testimony, sitting in their mother's lap or next to her. They were not in the courtroom during Knight's cross examination of Clinch about the children's awareness of their father's death.
Clinch also testified Thursday morning about the bargains he was willing to make to ensure that the children wouldn't be alone with their father after the couple divorced. After the separation of Bohannon and Amanda Clinch in 2006, William Clinch drafted a settlement plan in which Clinch would finish the payments on the couple's Dodge Neon if Bohannon would agree to only supervised visits with his children until their 18th birthday.
In the settlement, Clinch also wrote that he would drop the defamation lawsuit he'd filed against Bohannon for spreading the story that Clinch is the father of Amanda Clinch and Jeremy Bohannon's youngest child, Kiyanah.
But Bohannon never saw this settlement plan, though it wasn't clear from testimony why he didn't. On cross examination by Knight, Clinch admitted that the judge in the couple's divorce allowed Bohannon unsupervised visits after Bohannon completed anger-management and parenting classes.
On Aug. 30, 2007, Clinch learned that Bohannon had completed the classes and would soon be able to see his children unsupervised. At that time, Clinch started planning the murder of his former brother-in-law, he said.
Clinch finished his testimony on Thursday morning after being on the stand since 4 p.m. Tuesday. He was on the stand a total of 14 hours.
The trial continued Thursday afternoon with more testimony from defense witnesses.