Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

The Perfect Witness (Chapter 10 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor's Note: Opening paragraphs from the current review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
“When confused by contradictory technical testimony, all that conscientious but bewildered jurors seem to be able to do is to give the Academy Award to the song and dance man they think gave the best performance.”
    It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction. That is frequently the case when it comes to recounting real crimes that have been committed, judgments that have been handed down, and sentences that have been carried out. For quite some time writers have sought literary gold by mining this nonfiction vein of abhorrent behavior and its consequences. A few have actually found it in such excellent tomes as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, and Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field. The search for justice never seems to lose its particular allure. An allure that is alive and well in Jim Rix’s Jingle Jangle.]
“Ninety per cent of trial work is investigation and preparation,” said Chris Plourd. It wasn’t only the DNA and the bite mark for which he prepared. Plourd was very thorough about every aspect of the case. He spent hours poring over forensic reports, pretrial motions, witness interviews and trial transcripts. He put page numbers and a table of contents on the nearly four hundred pages of police reports for quick and easy reference. He lived in the evidence room until he had scrutinized each and every piece of evidence. He made copies of every photo in evidence and obtained a copy of those photos in police custody that didn’t make it into evidence.
    One tool of the trade is a portable photo stand. Lights and a camera are mounted on a poll attached to the base. With the lights lighting an item of evidence placed on the base, the camera, adjusted vertically, takes its picture. One such item was Ancona’s phone book, opened to the “R” page. She alphabetized by first names. On this page was Ray Krone’s name and phone number. On the opposite page was another “Ray,” listed with no last name and no phone number but with an address, though not Ray Krone’s.

    The Friday night before the murder, Ray Krone was in the bar celebrating a friend’s birthday. Kim Ancona was also there as a patron. She did not work that night but was scheduled for the next night. Hank Arredondo, the bar owner, and Denise Newman, an employee waiting tables that Friday night, saw Ancona sitting with an individual they both described as a dark-haired white male, five feet, eleven inches, one hundred and sixty pounds, with a noticeable cut above his right eye and wearing dark-rimmed glasses with thick lenses. Arredondo did not know this person’s name, but Denise Newman did. It was “Ray.” This “Ray” had no facial hair. Ray Krone was sporting a full beard at the time.
    How did the notion arise that Ray Krone and Kim Ancona were “dating”? They were both in the CBS Lounge that Friday night and, except for a polite hello, Ray spent the evening with his friends, while Ancona spent her time at a separate table drinking and conversing with this other “Ray.” Was this the “Ray” Kim Ancona was heard to say might come by to help her close up? According to Kate Koester, Ancona did not use a last name when she talked about “Ray.” Koester indicated that she had no knowledge of this other “Ray.” But Koester did know Ray Krone. Perhaps she assumed…?
    Why was Ray Krone’s number in Ancona’s phone book anyway? He hadn’t given it to her. It was possible that Ancona wrote Ray’s number in her book when Trish called to tell her about Ray’s lasagna party and suggested that she give Ray a call. Ray had invited Trish, but she declined, telling Ray that Kim might be interested in coming to his party. Ray did not call and invite Ancona.
    Armed with “Ray” from Newman and “Krone” from Koester, the detective began his investigation with the “Ray Krone” found in Ancona’s phone book. Even though the description did not match, the detective ended his investigation with Ray Krone, whom he found at home about to leave for a darts award luncheon at the Black Bull Bar & Grill. One look at Ray’s teeth most likely convinced the detective that he had found the murderer of Kim Ancona. Other detectives investigated other suspects, but the lead detective seemed to ignore them.
    “Are you going to investigate this other ‘Ray’?” I asked Chris Plourd.
    “Absolutely.” But he never got around to it. He needed just one viable candidate to present to the jury as the actual murderer of Kim Ancona, and one was emerging with close ties to the murder scene.
    In investigating Tennessee Mike, Plourd had found several items of evidence that were either misrepresented or not presented at the first trial. These items were destined for the second trial, because they favored his client.

    At the first trial, Phoenix police criminologist Scott Piette had testified that the pubic hairs found on Ancona’s abdomen were “similar” to those of Ray Krone. Soon after the supreme court reversed Ray Krone’s conviction, prosecutor Levy sent the pubic hairs to the FBI crime lab for a more complete analysis, perhaps hoping that “similar” would become “match.” The hair samples didn’t have enough hair follicles, which are necessary for DNA typing. But the FBI lab was able to determine that the pubic hairs were “Mongoloid,” consistent with having come from an American Indian. Tennessee Mike was one. Ray Krone wasn’t.
    At the first trial, testimony involving the footprints found at the crime scene had limited them to the kitchen area. They were presented to have been made earlier in the evening and were argued to have been unrelated to the crime. But in reality these footprints were all over the crime scene. Photographs verified that they were found not only in the kitchen near the knife rack that was missing the murder weapon, but also in the bar area on the tiled entryway to the kitchen. And, most importantly, these same footprints were found on the restroom floor surrounding the victim.
    It was difficult to dispute that these footprints were in fact related to the crime. One of the last closing procedures was to mop the floors in the bar area and the restrooms. The cook, David Torres, left a bucket of clean soapy water just inside the kitchen door for this purpose. Ancona had done her job. The bucket was found the next morning filled with dirty water. If the restroom floor had not been mopped, one would expect a high traffic area like a restroom to be loaded with footprints. Yet the only prints found were made by a single pair of Converse brand tennis shoes. Tennessee Mike wore Converse shoes. Ray Krone wore MacGregors.
    The pair of Levi pants worn by Kim Ancona the night of the murder was one of the items in evidence. In the back pocket Plourd found a business card along with two one-dollar bills. This evidence was overlooked by the investigating detectives. Robbery had not been considered to be an element of the crime. But what happened to Ancona’s money? Presumably she would at least have had some tip money on her—hopefully more than two bucks for a night’s work.
    The business card belonged to a woman named Kathy. She had not been contacted for the first trial. When contacted this time, Kathy stated that she was Ancona’s next-door neighbor and had come into the bar near closing time to buy cigarettes. Kathy gave her business card to Ancona, with her home phone number written on the back. She expected Ancona to call her later that night. This fact contradicted Koester’s “understanding” that Ancona expected to spend the night with “Ray,” whom she assumed to be “Krone.” Ancona did not mention to Kathy that she planned to have a date with anyone, let alone Ray Krone. Others testified that Ancona had party plans for that night. One was her best friend Beth. Beth waited with Tennessee Mike at Mike’s place for Ancona’s call. Tennessee Mike was also a neighbor. He lived directly across the street from Ancona and Clark. Beth and Tennessee Mike had been at the CBS Lounge most of the evening and were the last to leave the bar. They proceeded to Tennessee Mike’s house to wait for Ancona. There they drank some and finished the methamphetamine (speed) that they’d acquired earlier that night at the bar, possibly from Ancona. At the autopsy it was determined that Ancona was on speed at the time of her death.
    Before long Tennessee Mike became a bit randy and attempted to forcibly spirit Beth into the bedroom. Beth became extremely upset and demanded to be taken home. Mike took her. The quickest route was down West Camelback Road, passing the CBS Lounge. Tennessee Mike—then a loaded pistol high on speed—would have been returning from Beth’s place about the time Kim Ancona was murdered. As he passed by the CBS Lounge, did he observe that Ancona’s car was still in the parking lot and decide to check up on her? Was he the one Dale Henson had seen enter the CBS Lounge early that morning and then exit a short time later?
    Dale Henson worked for Techniques Hydro System. This company had the contract to clean the sidewalks of the strip mall where the CBS Lounge was located. The sidewalks were cleaned once a month with a high-pressure water system. This system generated four thousand pounds of nozzle pressure of hot water. Because of the associated danger to the public, sidewalk cleaning was done at night. First, a garden hose was connected between a water source and special equipment on a truck. This equipment heated the water and increased the water pressure. A high-pressure hose was then unreeled from the truck and laid out along the section of sidewalk to be cleaned. When the water was hot enough, cleaning could begin. Hosing down the sidewalk required two passes. The first was made along the inner half of the twelve-foot-wide sidewalk. Then whoever was operating the equipment would return to the starting point and make a second pass along the outer half, hosing the debris into the parking lot. Because the length of the hose was limited, the process was repeated in sections.
    Henson was on the job the night of the murder. At 11:00 p.m., he began cleaning the corner of the sidewalk furthest from the CBS Lounge. By 2:30 a.m., Henson was halfway through the first pass of the last section to be done. He was directly in front of the CBS Lounge and facing the parking lot. He observed a vehicle described as a foreign-made compact sedan, medium-green in color, enter the lot and park about sixty feet away from where he was standing. A person exited the vehicle and headed directly toward Henson. Walking across the freshly cleaned sidewalk, this person passed within eight feet of Henson—so close, in fact, that it was necessary for Henson to divert the stream of water from hitting him. The person then disappeared into the CBS Lounge with shoes wet from the freshly cleaned sidewalk—ready to leave prints on the freshly mopped floor inside. A half-hour or so later, Henson was making his second pass in front of the CBS Lounge when the same individual reappeared from behind him and returned to the car. Henson watched as the car exited the parking lot and turned onto Camelback.
    Dale Henson gave a good description to the investigating detective—a male of medium build, approximately five feet, ten inches tall with shoulder-length hair and no facial hair. At a photo lineup presented two days after the murder, Henson failed to single out any of the six photos with certainty. He could not tell that the person pictured in photo number four was of slender build and six feet, two inches tall. He did notice the shoulder-length hair tied in a pony tail. But it was the full beard that made Henson absolutely sure that this person was not the individual whom he saw enter the CBS Lounge. Number four was Ray Krone. Tennessee Mike was five feet, nine inches.
    Dale Henson was sure of one other thing. The man who entered the CBS Lounge was wearing a “fatigue green military-style field jacket, an Army coat.” When shown the jacket found in Ray Krone’s closet, Henson was sure that it was not the same one. He described Krone’s coat as “a lime green ski parka.” How could Henson be so sure about the jacket he’d seen? Because he owned one just like it, a gift from his older brother, who was in the Army. Tennessee Mike owned one too, but his picture was not in the photo lineup.
    All this discovery cast great suspicion upon Tennessee Mike. But there was more. Another acquaintance of Kim Ancona, a woman named Teri, was also a patron of the CBS Lounge the night of the murder. She too had made plans with Ancona to party later that night. But more interestingly, she dated Tennessee Mike a few times around the time of the murder. She stopped seeing him because she said he liked to bite.
    Dale Henson had not been called to testify at the first trial.
    Plourd enlisted Mike Pain to locate prospective witnesses and to do the preliminary interviews. The last name on Plourd’s list was “Dale Henson.” His mention in the police reports was innocuous at best. Since he hadn’t appeared at the first trial, it seemed unlikely that he would have much to offer.
    Mike Pain located Henson just two weeks before the second trial was to start.
    Chris Plourd grinned noticeably as he read through the typed transcription of Mike Pain’s taped interview. Then he looked at his calendar.
    “Tell Henson he’ll be subpoenaed to testify,” he told Mike Pain.
    “See that Levy gets a copy of these,” he added, putting his copies of the Henson tape and transcript into his briefcase.
    Discovery works both ways, with one difference. Defense attorneys must disclose only evidence they intend to introduce at trial. There is no legal obligation for the defense to disclose incriminating evidence. Prosecutors, on the other hand, are obligated by law to disclose all known evidence to the defense, including and especially exculpatory evidence. Burying the Henson interview deep within the stack of police reports given to Ray Krone’s attorney qualified as disclosure. But defense attorney Geoffrey Jones must not have made it to the bottom of the stack, because he did not contact Henson for the first trial.
    I asked Chris, “Aren’t you going to talk with Henson?”
    As the trial approached, I spent more and more time tagging along with Chris as he prepared his case. I observed him spend many hours with his forensic experts and lay witnesses. At formal depositions, taped interviews, court hearings, he would pin down his witnesses as well as the state’s witnesses on key points. “I want to know what to expect from each witness. I don’t want them going sideways on me at trial,” he would say. I’d observed Chris meet with every prospective witness at least once. But Pain’s interview was enough. Chris did not meet Henson until the day he testified.
    Levy didn’t interview Henson either. But the Phoenix police department did. Henson was called in to take a Polygraph Test—several times.
    “It’s not necessary,” Chris answered. “Henson doesn’t know any of the players—not Ray, not Ancona, nor anyone else from the CBS [Lounge]. He lives in another part of town far from the CBS—never been inside. He’s just an average guy who happened to be there late that night doing his job when he saw something. And he’s sure about what he saw. He’s the perfect witness.”
    One element of Henson’s story remained a mystery, however. Tennessee Mike drove a blue Toyota pickup. The color of the vehicle used by the murderer appeared green to Henson. Blue could be mistaken for green, as the vehicle was some distance away and illuminated by a yellowish light. Yellow mixed with blue yields green. But there is a substantial difference between a pickup and “a foreign-made compact sedan.” Efforts were made to discover who drove such a vehicle. But it was neither Ray Krone’s nor his roommate’s nor Tennessee Mike’s nor his roommate’s nor Beth’s nor Paul Clark’s nor Kim Ancona’s nor Trish’s nor Lu’s.
    Such a car and whoever owned it could not be found. Was Henson mistaken about the vehicle the murderer drove to the CBS Lounge?

[Editor’s Note: Jingle Jangle is still in print and can be ordered through Amazon. (The author’s Amazon vendor’s name is “The Book Abides.”) Autographed copies can be arranged. Let us know.]


Copyright © 2015 by Jim Rix

1 comment:

  1. Jim, it was easy to find photos of Chris Plourd and Ray Krone. I though I had one of Dale Henson (from his obituary), but it turned out to be Dale Hanson, from the Midwest. Nothing on Scott Piette or Noel Levy. Maybe if the Internet were at the same stage twenty years ago as it is now....
        I sent a notice of today's installation to Chris & Ray. I'd love to have one of them comment here....

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