Defense witnesses testify in Clinch trial

Thursday, October 22, 2009 | 9:48 p.m. CDT; updated 9:19 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 23, 2009
Trial witness Kelley Cordrey wipes her eyes while answering public defender Jennifer Bukowsky's questions during William Clinch's first-degree murder trial on Thursday at the Boone County Courthouse. Cordrey testified that Clinch's victim, Jeremy Bohannon, did abuse his children and that nobody had reported him to law enforcement. Clinch testified on Wednesday that he killed Bohannon to protect the children from further harm.

COLUMBIA — Kelley Cordrey, a former neighbor of Amanda Clinch and Jeremy Bohannon, testified Thursday afternoon that she witnessed Bohannon abuse his children and threaten to kill his wife and three kids. But she never reported it to the police.

Cordrey lived in the same trailer park as Amanda Clinch and Bohannon while they were married and living together in Rocheport. She told the jury that she often saw multiple bruises on the children. “I thought Jeremy was too strict and mean to the kids,” Cordrey said.

Cordrey testified that she was present when Bohannon threatened to kill Amanda Clinch and their three children.“He said he would shoot the children and put them in their beds with their hands folded like little angels,” she said crying. She said his plan also included killing Amanda Clinch and then himself.

William Clinch, 39, of Hallsville, is on trial in the 13th Circuit Court for  Boone County for first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He is accused of fatally shooting Bohannon, his former brother-in-law, in September 2007 in the parking lot of McDonald’s on Clark Lane.

Cordrey’s testimony was part of Public Defender Jennifer Bukowsky’s effort to paint Bohannon as an abusive father. William Clinch told the Lafayette County jury that he did it “to save the lives of the children.”

Boone County Prosecutor Dan Knight asked Cordrey why she never called the police to report the abuse. She said that once they found out about the abuse, the family never left Bohannon alone with the kids again.

“I was very concerned for Amanda and the children,” Cordrey said.

Knight challenged that statement by reading aloud to the jury notes written by Deborah K. Riekhof, guardian ad litem, which state that Cordrey “never thought the kids were in danger and never heard him threaten or strike anyone.”

“You say the kids were abused, but the police were never called, correct?” Knight said to Cordrey. She agreed saying that no one in the family ever reported child abuse to the authorities.

Knight asked Cordrey why no one asked the police to check out the children while they were responding to several other calls involving Bohannon's behavior. She said the family should not have to tell them, “they should have known.”  

Knight then threw his arms in the air while several jurors stared at the witness and shook their heads.

Kassie Campbell, a friend and former co-worker of Amanda and William Clinch, tried to provide a positive picture of the defendant. She testified that William Clinch was a “very nice guy, not vindictive, and laid back.”

Knight asked Campbell if she would change her mind if she knew that William Clinch took Bohannon’s car and left him stranded. “Would you still think Bill (Clinch) was a nice guy if you knew that he broke into Jeremy’s trailer and waited for him?” Knight asked Campbell.

Campbell said she didn’t know the circumstances around those incidents, but if they were true, “maybe it would change my opinion.”

Another witness, Laura Owens, testified about her experience working for William Clinch at Columbia Orthopedic Group. She said he was never able to admit when he was wrong and often blamed other people for his mistakes.

The trial is scheduled to continue at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Boone County Courthouse.

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